Digital Companions in a Post-COVID World
COVID-19 has brought about an unprecedented shift in the acceptance of digital technologies for healthcare applications. While adoption of digital therapeutics had been slow prior to the pandemic, the industry shift to patient-driven use has created new momentum to create wide-spread adoption of digital solutions. For companies leading the fight against COVID-19, the use of digital companions will be an important tool to help in our restoration of societal norms.
The role of digital companions
Digital companions can offer distinct benefits to support the access and uptake of associated drugs. For example, they can promote adherence in chronic disease areas or provide a path to real-world data collection. These advanced platforms can also help to influence patient behaviors and help to reduce missed or lost doses, representing millions in system costs.
As we begin to look at a post-COVID world, technology is more important than ever to create frictionless coordination of care. During the start of the pandemic, health systems, pharma companies, and patients realized the value of digital companions to help stay connected and access essential health info while apart. This model now shows great potential to engage with patients throughout their medical journey, well beyond a COVID-free world.
Approval and future use among patients
As more health systems and providers shift to telemedicine and other digital companions to maintain connections, patients now expect health care services to maintain its on-demand nature. Use of virtual tools increased across the board as patients switched to at-home treatment during COVID-19 took more advantage of telemedicine, online chat, and digital health apps.
Now one year later, and 75 percent of patients indicate they will continue to use digital companions and telehealth tools well beyond the end of the pandemic. Following their initial introduction to digital health tools, 90% say the experience is excellent want to continue using them for future visits. Providers are also seeing a positive upside to increased use of digital companions, seeing increased trust and satisfaction rates with healthcare systems in conjunction with digital companion use.
Digital health tracking
As we look ahead to a post-COVID world, the use of a digital companion will become essential for greater access. Several airlines and cruise lines are already requiring passengers to provide proof of negative COVID test results, and proof of vaccination. To support this effort, numerous digital health companies are developing a health passport. A digital companion could store a patient’s health passport shows the time, date, and results of the latest health screenings as well as vaccination records. The CommonPass system, backed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), is designed to create a common international standard for passengers to demonstrate they do not have coronavirus. countries that have closed borders and imposed quarantines are looking for ways to “thoughtfully reopen” their borders.
Digital patient monitoring
Digital companions can present a new form of mobile care, utilizing patient interaction, GPS locations, and self-reporting to help monitor patients. The Department of Veterans Affairs have already launched a National Emergency Telecritical Care Network (NETCCN) to create virtual care wards for Coronavirus patients. NETCCN would assist health care providers, wherever they are located, by obtaining real-time patient and supplies data and disseminating critical care expertise. As we look to a post-COVID world, this same type of methodology could easily help to track future outbreaks, prevent other pandemics, and help to slow the spread of diseases.
With vaccines being given to patients across the world, there is hope that the pandemic will end soon. But to help prevent future pandemics, it’s important to learn from this moment and harness innovative and advanced applications of digital health tools. As we explore what a post-COVID world could look like, its increasingly clear that new digital health tools and greater attention to patient health will play a central role in our way forward.