“APAC, post-COVID-19, will see an explosion of innovation in digital health”
BioSpectrum Asia|August 2020
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“APAC, post-COVID-19, will see an explosion of innovation in digital health”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic plaguing countries worldwide has created unprecedented change for the global economy, especially healthcare institutions at the forefront. Hospitals across the world are facing never before seen challenges that have accelerated the development of technological innovations. As we navigate the complexities of the virus and the amount of disruption it has brought about, one thing is certain – COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future. It’s time to focus on this new reality and how we can achieve a sense of normalcy. Dr. Ian Chuang, who is currently the Chief Medical Officer at Elsevier shares his insights on how the healthcare ecosystem can prepare for the ‘new normal’ in a post-COVID-19 world. Edited excerpts;
Hithaishi C Bhaskar

Dr Ian Chuang, Chief Medical Officer, EMEALAAP Health, Elsevier, Kansas City, Missouri Area, USA

How can healthcare ecosystems establish a strategic and resilient pandemic preparedness model?

There are and continue to be many lessons to be learned from this pandemic. Some of the areas are broad and systemic, requiring larger-scale evaluation of the fundamentals of the healthcare system and model of care itself. Ideally, we proceed with any change in a human-centered design thinking approach.

With many uncertainties about the disease, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of accessible and trusted data for frontline clinicians providing care. The pandemic crisis has sped up the delivery and accentuated the weakness in the healthcare system. The healthcare system was not ready when the disease first broke, putting a strain on the entire health system. As healthcare workers were over-taxed and reacting to the evolving crisis, patients were left to figure things out on their own. There was no recipe to fall back. Doctors’ offices were closed, elective surgeries canceled, and patients did not know where to seek care, let alone whether the Emergency Department was safe. The healthcare system was barely keeping up with the demands of COVID-19 related care; definitely, there was a shortfall of how well other care needs were met.

As the healthcare system reacts, ultimately, preparing and equipping the frontline caregivers is where the impact is made for the patients and the population being served. What does the caregiver need in response to the evolving circumstances? Equally important is, what do the patients and the broader community being served by the hospital or health care system, need to know and do? Communication, access to care, and care coordination are broad needs that are important to build a pandemic preparedness model.

How do we mitigate the adverse health impact from the future pandemic wave by strengthening and collaborating various divisions in healthcare?

The pandemic continues to rage on globally, affecting economies and healthcare systems beyond borders. This has heightened the need for real-time information to be shared and assimilated with the best care standards and experiences globally in order to mitigate any adverse health impact. COVID-19 is unlikely to go away quickly. And after COVID-19, we know there will be something else. This pattern is well established with many data points. Our preparedness should be for what looks like a COVID-19 marathon, but also better preparedness for the next unknown to come.

In times like these, research needs to be combined with real-world evidence and make their way to healthcare professionals so that the knowledge lag and the degree of knowledge variability is minimized. It is important that trusted evidence-based knowledge partners are available for healthcare professionals to seek information and corroborate clinical data with academic research, to enable better quality and safe patient care.

There has never been a better time to leverage technology to make knowledge readily available and easily accessible to all. Institutions can consider integrating their electronic health record (EHR) system with clinical decision support tools so that healthcare professionals can have timely access to the latest clinical research and guidelines and provide better guidance to patients at the point-of-care. This improves the efficiency of clinicians in their work within the EHR, aligned to a knowledge-driven care process.

How do we protect healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, ward staff) during the course of infectious disease treatment and to set their immune system on alert even during their routine services?

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August 2020