__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 36

Digital health tech of reticence initially,” he says, “but digital will become the norm for general practice, with all minor issues being dealt with remotely.” Even if more serious issues are handled face to face, digital healthcare can help with follow-up care – with patients selftesting and recording health readings from their own home. It can also help increase the patient’s understanding of their condition and, just as importantly, reduce hospital admissions as their health is more closely monitored.

ADDED FLEXIBILITY While general practice is currently the area seeing the highest growth in remote consultations, disciplines such as physiotherapy and psychiatry are also starting to benefit from the flexibility that technology can offer. Physio might sound like something that demands a ‘hands on’ approach, but Covid restrictions have forced practitioners to employ lateral thinking, too. Virtual meetings, where physios can conduct an initial assessment and then decide whether a digital pathway is appropriate or not, is one example. As Casey points out, post-Covid-19, Square Health’s physios will still look to use virtual solutions, or at least combine them with face-to-face treatments when it is in the patient’s best interest to do so. Once again, the focus is on flexibility and the patient experience. “Physios can provide bespoke exercise programmes, with the patient logging on to the app every day and providing feedback. There are various red flags in place to identify any areas of concern if they arise,” he says.

36 january 2021

With psychiatry, the pandemic has also led to more virtual consultations. Casey suggests mental health provision particularly lends itself to opportunities provided by health tech. “It is all about making patients more comfortable and, for many, they feel most secure in their own environment. The onus is on ensuring they are happy with how the consultation is conducted – for instance, they may not initially want to share their screen with their counsellor, so the option not to is there.” Covid-19 has clearly had an impact on the shift to digital healthcare provision, but what about using tech to track disease risks and trends in the first place – pre-emptive work as well as responsive activity? Is there

Digital health is one of the most interesting consumer sectors today. Covid-19 has only accelerated the growth in it

a danger that, as vaccines become available, the focus will move away from anticipating future disease risks? Lindsay Bryson, Chief Operating Officer at BlueDot, is a specialist in AI for disease control. She highlights the panic-neglect cycle in infectious disease – a cycle that needs to be broken. “There are two parts to that,” she says. “First is understanding that the risks are serious. There have been six global public health emergencies declared in the past decade. That’s one global public health emergency every 20 months. After Covid-19, I think it’s safe to say that we all understand the risks. “Second is to know that we have the technology to mitigate those risks. BlueDot was able to spot Ebola, Zika and Covid-19 very early on, and predict the risk and impact of their spread. That’s part of what we call epidemic intelligence. We all have to be ready for the next outbreak.” Chris Clark, CEO of Channel Islandsbased technology consultancy Prosperity 24/7, agrees that, from a bigger-picture perspective, digital technology is having an enormous impact on how governments formulate health policy. “Technology is providing governments with insight and data they’ve never before had, which is enabling them to identify health trends and plan in advance,” he says. “This could be anything from flu spread and hospital bed availability to staffing issues. Big data is being successfully applied to policy decision-making.”

THE HOT INVESTMENT THEME Self-care and virtual consultations for patients might seem somewhat removed from risk assessment for pandemics, but they are linked. Any future pandemics will put enormous demand on health services. Technological advances both in disease tracking and digital healthcare will require significant and continued investment. Berlucchi has no doubt this capital support will be readily available. “Digital health is one of the most interesting consumer sectors today. Covid-19 has only accelerated the growth and interest in it. “Investments – both venture capital and private equity – are very strong, particularly in the US, but there are also many positive signs in Europe. Consumer healthcare is the ‘last to the party’ when it comes to redesigning pre-internet-era business models.” Bryson agrees that awareness among investors of how technology can transform health research and care has progressed significantly. “We were very lucky to have the support of far-sighted investors who understood the magnitude of the problem we were tackling long before Covid-19,” she says. “Now, the whole world seems to understand the need for what we do.” n

www.blglobal.co.uk

Profile for BL Magazine

BL Magazine, Issue 71 December 2020/January 2021  

How are Channel Islands firms juggling the need to transform digitally with also managing short-term pressures? Why are the Channel Islands...

BL Magazine, Issue 71 December 2020/January 2021  

How are Channel Islands firms juggling the need to transform digitally with also managing short-term pressures? Why are the Channel Islands...

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded