The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our attitudes to health and the way we access healthcare. Lockdowns, social distancing guidelines and the risk of infection have caused many people to think twice about visiting their GP, choosing to remain home and take advantage of virtual healthcare solutions instead.
Fortunately, many healthcare providers already had digital initiatives on their radars. The pandemic merely served to expedite their implementation. Having experienced virtual healthcare and discovering first hand the benefits it can afford, many individuals will continue to utilise it long after the pandemic has passed.
Here are just three of the virtual healthcare offerings we’ve witnessed gain traction in recent times:
When it comes to virtual healthcare, digital GP services is one offering that has really gained traction.
An alternative to face-to-face appointments, digital GP services allow patients to consult with their doctors remotely via online calls. There’s often no waiting for an appointment and the need to travel is completely negated, meaning patients don’t have to take time off work or rearrange their schedules.
We are also now seeing an expansion of these digital services, with virtual physiotherapy, mental health support and even remote dental screening all becoming available.
Wearable health sensors that connect with smartphone apps, such as the Fitbit, Apple Watch and Garmin Venu, were already popular prior to the pandemic. But now, with people paying more attention to their health, their usage has increased even further.
In addition to tracking heart rate and number of steps each day, many wearable health sensors now also monitor blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels. To benefit from this level of insight from a personal health device is quite remarkable and allows patients to keep a close eye on the state of their health. Any sign that something is untoward and the patient can make an appointment with their GP, potentially avoiding the need for more complicated medical treatment later.
While home blood pressure monitors and blood sugar testers are nothing new, self-test smear kits and colon capsule endoscopies definitely are.
Back in February, the NHS announced that it would send out cervical cancer screening kits to some 31,000 women across London who were overdue for a smear test. These kits would allow the individuals to carry out a simple home swab test to screen for the Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer.
Then, in March, the NHS rolled out capsule cameras to test for cancer. Known as a colon capsule endoscopy, the miniature cameras are contained within a small capsule, no bigger than a pill. As they travel through a patient’s digestive system, they take pictures, negating the need for an endoscopy in a hospital.
All of these virtual healthcare solutions, and more, are likely to have an impact on the private medical insurance market. With more people proactively monitoring their health and seeking medical assistance sooner, the need for more serious interventions will reduce. This could potentially lead to the cost of cover coming down too.