This Blog was first published on Medpage Today on December 10th.
The beginning of the new year marks the beginning of some significant endings. Most importantly, with the approved vaccines, we can finally see the end of the pandemic on the horizon. Most notably, however, we can see the end of the pre-COVID ways of thinking about and practicing medicine.
COVID-19 has laid the foundation for transforming the shape of medicine. Through personal and societal impacts, the pandemic has left many feeling dehumanized and isolated. This isolation, however, has given us an opportunity to ponder over our personal beliefs and recalibrate how we want our lives to look. This past year has brought a heightened awareness of the existing economic and health inequities and rampant racism, as well as the impending perils of climate change. For long, these problems have existed and continuously threatened our ever-so-fragile ecosystem. But it was not until the pandemic, that we were forced to recognize these unnerving truths; through its devastation, the virus has emphasized the need to take better care of our planet and the life on it.
An inability to learn and improve from these events will be a huge disservice to all of the people that we have lost this past year and all of their loved ones.
Amongst all of the lessons that this pandemic has forced on us, there are four that can and will broadly shape the medicine of tomorrow: i) The advent of sensor-aided virtual care, ii) The need to overcome social disparities and ensure equitable health, iii) Tackling structural and systemic racism within the corridors of medicine, and iv) Recognizing that we are all connected across the globe.
Lesson 1: Sensor-aided Virtual care & Remote Monitoring
They say adversity breeds innovation, and virtual care has been a product of this sentiment. As COVID-19 kept everyone indoors, telehealth continued to allow care to be dispensed while keeping patients and providers safe. The positive impact of this on access, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of care delivery cannot be overstated. It goes without saying that a big-driver of the future of medicine will be sensor-aided virtual care powered by predictive analytics and self-care algorithms.