The Healthcare System after the COVID-19 Crisis

Sep 27, 2020 | Clinical AI, Healthcare

The history – how crises have changed the world forever!

Any glance at history reveals that crises, which have shaped the history of mankind, have often galvanized radical change in the system for the better. As we can see in the global flu pandemic of 1918, the great depression and second world war, the series of disasters set the stage for the world to embrace modernity. We have already seen this around the world today where people have increasingly adopted the remote and virtual way of working due to coronavirus.

The healthcare system after the coronavirus crisis

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause deaths all around the world, those who survive the crisis will have financial, socio-economic and healthcare upheavals in the coming couple of years.

There will be a reduced number of healthcare workers and professionals for healthcare services.

Given the season or cyclic outbreak of coronavirus in the near future, it will not be surprising if many patients will prefer to stay indoors and avoid hospital visits altogether.

The demand for healthcare services will grow sharply due to the backlog of cases.

More patients will end up in the accident and emergency department as the direct consequence of reduced capacity in primary care (GP surgeries).

Reduced funding will force the existing hospital system capacity to handle the high demand.

The general public and professionals will be more inclined towards an alternative way of healthcare delivery such as virtual consultation rather than a physical visit to the hospital.

The combined aftermath of all these will force the government and decision-makers to adopt alternative modes of healthcare services such as virtual consulting, telehealthcare, artificial intelligence-led services and digital health. While there has been a lot of effort in the country already for technology adoption into healthcare, there will be tremendous pressure to fast track the process further.

Case studies of use of AI during the coronavirus crisis

The US, South Korea and Taiwan have been using artificial intelligence to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

AI is being used to speed up the development of testing kits. The approval process for any equipment which normally takes 18 months has been fast-tracked to a week.

Scientists have used AI to recreate the genomes express sequence in a month by using AI-powered technologies compared to a few months required with the traditional approach.

Governments, universities and research institutes are using mobile data and artificial intelligence to understand the geographic location of coronavirus victims in order to reinforce containment strategies.

AI is also being deployed to create real-time digital alerts for people to avoid coronavirus infected areas.

The advantages of AI-enabled models

The deep learning AI systems outdo human beings by self-learning mechanisms which allow them to learn by themselves from a large set of scenarios. By continually integrating new learning to perfect themselves with a speed that humans cannot match, the machine learning solution brings a paradigm shift in the diagnostic and treatment journey of the patient.

The important highlights of using AI includes increased availability, lower costs, and no risk of mutual infection. Instead of replacing the human being in the decision-making process, the machine’s role in assisting the physician brings an unprecedented amount of safety and overall value to the healthcare system. The point of cross-infection is ever more relevant during today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Change in consumer behaviour

There has been much scepticism with regard to the use of AI-enabled healthcare models in healthcare. While 49% of consumers are happy to accept the recommendations of AI applications for travel and restaurants, only 20% of participants are happy to trust the AI-powered healthcare advisors. After the devastating impact of coronavirus, consumer healthcare preferences are likely to change which will be the driver for change in the healthcare industry.

Further analysis of consumer acceptance of AI-driven services shows that the young consumers (80%) are likely to adopt the AI model of care compared to the older generation (22% above the age of 65 yrs.). Given the threat to the older generation from coronavirus infection, this preference is likely to change in the near future.

Call for action

The following steps will greatly reduce the repercussions of the huge fiscal spending needed to fight the coronavirus emergency whilst ensuring that citizens can avail of essential healthcare services.

As an action plan

Fast track technology approval processes to bring cost-efficient new technologies to use

Prioritise the induction of approved artificial intelligence-powered healthcare solutions to patient services

Provide COVID-19 funds to galvanize innovative technologies

Support team to assist small-medium enterprises to keep up with timely development of technologies.

Inculcate the virtual working environment concept into healthcare and hospital practice.

Develop tools and technologies to empower patients.

Subsidize the cost of resources such as knowledge bank and journals to the entrepreneur community.

Encourage alternate models of healthcare working environments to reduce human to human contact.

Encourage the development of technologies that bring efficiency and automation to the entire process.

Encourage new models of public government-private partnership to mitigate the effect of the global recession.