The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the world towards greater digitalization in all aspects of our lives, from work to socializing. The healthcare industry, spurred by the needs of the pandemic population, rapidly developed new methods of conducting care and streamlined vaccine development. New and existing tools were utilized to fight the pandemic and protect the population from infection. Here are a few tools and methods used to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though telehealth options existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, they have become a new normal in today’s post-pandemic America. Telehealth appointments allow patients to have virtual appointments with their physicians without running the risk of spreading infection through in-person contact. Though some drawbacks to telehealth, some patients with chronic conditions still need in-person appointments; telehealth options have saved doctors and patients time and money and decreased the risk of COVID contact. Today, many insurances offer various telehealth options for patients seeking medical care.
The COVID-19 vaccines are some of the most critical developments to emerge from this pandemic. Operation Warp Speed in the US saw biopharma experts rushing all phases of development to create an effective and safe COVID vaccine. The Pzifer and Moderna vaccines were made using a modern mRNA approach to vaccine development. Messenger RNA is coded with protein instructions for the recipient’s cells to build and develop antibodies to fight off any coronaviruses the body detects. Groups like Avantor helped with the rapid development of these vaccines by supplying reliable and effective laboratory equipmentto researchers. Avantor will “keep your lab up-to-date with maintenance, calibration, and accreditation.” Companies like Avantor are critical for supporting laboratories and distribution networks working on vaccine development and delivery.
Artificial intelligence is a crucial tool utilized by the healthcare industry during the pandemic. AI helps scientists and statisticians predict the spread of disease and track infected people. Artificial intelligence software was used to temperature-check large crowds of people and used facial recognition to identify those who may be infected, despite the mask mandate. AI was also used to help scientists quickly search through long strands of DNA to locate specific proteins and develop the mRNA vaccines at an unprecedented pace.
Inventory Tracking & Improvements in Distribution
Improvements in inventory tracking and distribution network efficiencies seriously helped the healthcare system access PPE and other necessary equipment such as ventilators. These new technologies also helped streamline vaccine distribution across the US and other countries around the world. RFID tracking systems, new digital business tools, collaborative software, and updated tracking and management systems have significantly improved the distribution and shipping industries since the pandemic began. Not only does the healthcare industry need rapid access to specific inventories, but consumers have spurred an increase in online shopping, putting a significant strain on supply chains. These new internal systems have helped the supply chain streamline workflows and improve distribution.
Data and Distance
Throughout the pandemic, healthcare professionals stressed the importance of social distancing and staying home as much as possible to avoid spreading the disease. New ways of socializing online, conducting work from home, and government funding for renters and the unemployed were significant in maintaining support for the American people living under the pandemic. Restaurants turned to carry-out and delivery, and the eCommerce market boomed as online shopping eclipsed retail shopping. Even school was conducted virtually so students could remain in their homes. Using personal computers and smartphones to stay connected, conduct work, and more, became essential for individuals trying to live everyday lives during the pandemic. Further, data collection through wearables like smartwatches and anonymous data from healthcare institutions was integral for assisting medical professionals in understanding and fighting the disease.
These are just a few of the essential innovations in healthcare that helped us fight the pandemic and stay safe while it was at its worst. These technologies will continue to assist us in preparation for a future pandemic.