Life and business will never be the same after the pandemic, especially in healthcare.
Everything from how patients see their doctors and get treated to how hospitals use tools and share information will forever be altered.
The healthcare industry has long been ripe for innovation, and the pandemic has served as a powerful catalyst. Research from McKinsey found that 90% of healthcare executives believe COVID-19 will fundamentally change their businesses, and 85% predict lasting changes to customers’ preferences.
Innovative practices are being used not only to fight the spread of the virus, but also to continue delivering care to all types of patients in the safest ways possible.
Here are 10 examples of healthcare innovation in the face of COVID.
1 . Health Company Uses Drones For Medical Supplies Deliveries
North Carolina’s Novant Health partnered with Zipline, a company that specializes in delivering medical supplies to remote areas, to create a drone to deliver COVID supplies. The company was the first to receive FAA emergency clearance for drone deliveries. The drones can fly up to 80 miles per hour, even in wind and rain, and deliver PPE and other supplies via parachute for a truly no-contact experience. In the future, the drones could be used to deliver medical equipment, medicine and even vaccines without putting people at risk for COVID exposure or waiting on long delivery times.
2 . ResMed Enables Cloud-Based CPAP Monitoring
Ventilation device company ResMed sped up the release of its patient data management software AirView after realizing its importance during the pandemic. AirView uses cellular chips in ventilation devices and CPAP machines to send data to healthcare workers through the cloud. That information is then analyzed and put in a dashboard to help care teams remotely triage patients, adjust CPAP settings and troubleshoot. AirView allows high-risk patients to stay at home while still being monitored.
3 . Docdot App Can Detect COVID Remotely
Instead of seeing their patients in person, an app called Docdot allows doctors to track patients’ vital signs virtually and detect COVID symptoms with medical-grade accuracy. The app uses AI-powered light signal processing technology to convert light reflected from blood vessels in the face into accurate real-time vital sign measurements, including heart rate and oxygen saturation. Within as little as 45 seconds, the results can be retrieved and used to diagnose COVID-19 and other conditions. The technology not only allows doctors to care for individual patients remotely, but the data is also collected in real time for up-to-date information about COVID cases and hotspots.
4 . TytoCare Monitors Quarantined Patients Via Stethoscope
COVID-19 has been a boost for telehealth, but one company is taking it a step further. TytoCare has partnered with major hospitals to use special stethoscopes that both listen to patients’ hearts and transmit images of the lungs. Doctors can remotely walk a patient through a diagnostic visit and see the images from the stethoscope to monitor symptoms and intervene when necessary. AI features detect abnormalities and allow doctors to triage patients remotely while limiting physical contact.
5 . Military Unveils Low-Cost Ventilators For Expanded COVID Care
As part of the Department of Defense Hack-a-Vent Innovation Challenge, military scientists and engineers designed a low-cost, easily assembled ventilator that can be used in hospital and field settings. These ventilators can be quickly produced for less than $500 to expand COVID care to patients around the world, especially those in rural or under-resourced areas. The ventilators were designed, built and ready for approval within just weeks, a process that normally takes years, with the help of top scientists and crowdsourced designs.
6 . Hospitals Use VR For Training
The pandemic has re-emphasized to healthcare workers the need to continually upskill and learn. Unable to meet in large groups but still wanting to quickly train on up-to-date methods, hospitals are turning to virtual reality training. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center uses Virti to train its staff on everything from mindfulness to COVID surge response. Using AR, VR and AI, doctors and nurses feel like they are in a room with a real patient, and their decisions change the simulation results in real time. The technology keeps healthcare workers in top form while also keeping them safe and distanced.
7 . AI Software Company 3D Prints Nasal Testing Swabs
Faced with a shortage of testing supplies around the world, AI software company Axial3D designed 3D printed nasal swabs for COVID tests. The 3D printed swabs are not only quick to produce, but they also keep samples more intact than traditional swabs. With more access to testing swabs, clinics around the world can better monitor the spread of the virus.
8 . Mayo Clinic Uses De-identified Data To Create Treatments
Before the pandemic, Mayo Clinic had partnered with AI company nference to de-identify patient records, but the project accelerated when COVID hit. Together, the groups created the Clinical Data Analytics Platform: the de-identification of more than 12.5 million patient records, including lab values, vital signs and clinical notes. With all patient-identifying information removed, researchers can analyze the data to find connections and perform medical research. Mayo Clinic is using the platform to perform numerous COVID research studies and develop new therapies, a process that could take years or be impossible without the innovative data platform.
9 . Hospitals Use Robots To Deliver COVID Relief
Facing an increased patient-load and a simultaneous need to physically distance from patients, hospitals are turning to robots for assistance. Moxi is a one-armed rolling robot designed to help hospitals. Unveiled shortly before the pandemic, Moxi’s duties have pivoted to deliver PPE, lab samples and COVID tests. She picks up and delivers items to and from patients, reducing in-person interactions and limiting exposure to frontline workers and patients.
10 . Sutter Health Expands Chatbot To Cover COVID
With care becoming virtual throughout the pandemic, many healthcare providers have turned to AI-powered chatbots to answer questions and check symptoms. Sutter Health quickly added COVID to its chatbot symptom checker. By answering a series of questions, the algorithm evaluates a patient’s medical history, risk factors and symptoms to provide a recommendation. Sutter’s bot is the equivalent of having 60 doctors in a patient’s pocket to answer questions around the clock. Since the pandemic, Sutter’s chatbot use has tripled, with about half of queries happening outside normal office hours.
Healthcare will be permanently changed by the COVID pandemic. But these innovations show that the industry is primed to grow and find new solutions to deliver the best care possible, no matter the circumstances.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.