Paul Christie, co-founder and CEO of Tachmed, explains how technology can help prevent the future pandemics.
The global spread of COVID-19 in 2020 highlighted the importance of accurate health data, rapid vaccination, and routine testing to help control and stop the spread of disease.
It was a great unknown and since then it has pushed the conversation further on how digital diagnostics technology could impact these areas, as well as its potential for changing how healthcare is delivered around the world.
The impact on developing countries
In particular, healthtech stands to achieve the biggest and most immediate results in developing countries where highly contagious diseases continue to cause devastation. Take Yellow Fever for example. The CDC estimates there’s around 30,000 deaths a year from Yellow Fever and 90% of these are in Africa.
If communities in Africa were equipped with a digital diagnostics device that could quickly detect the first cases of an outbreak, vaccine delivery could be fast-tracked before the situation spiralled out of control.
It would ensure that patients get medical treatment sooner rather than later and has the potential to transform healthcare services in countries where patients are in hard-to-reach areas or miles away from any medical facilities.
Mobile technology can also enable aid workers and health professionals, working in villages and towns miles away from hospitals to access health data and information on conditions almost immediately, and facilitate a much faster response time on treatments.
With the data and results from these devices then shared with global health security agencies, they can be immediately deployed, and vaccines earmarked for other regions diverted as a high priority and shipped to the impacted community. The potential of these devices is endless, and the effect they could have, is seismic.
Looking closer to home
As outlined above, deploying healthtech across developing nations has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives. However, it can play a just as important role closer to home.
In March, the UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) announced changes to the routine testing for COVID-19 which was still ongoing in some health and care settings – three years on from the first cases of the virus. Looking back to 2019, no one was prepared for how the pandemic would play out and the catastrophic impact it would have on our lives.
Digital diagnostics technology that harnesses the power of big data and almost immediately provides clinicians and scientists with reliable and important insights about diseases, stands to prevent another virus or bacterial disease rapidly spreading through families and communities, as we saw in 2020.
Having an easy-to-use and affordable device within the home would allow patients to diagnose themselves and access treatment much quicker. It’s a real game-changer for future pandemic prevention.
This wealth of data will also help governments and health security agencies map out future threats and could completely transform the speed of response, as well as ensuring that any action taken is controlled and informed.
Just like the pandemic changed people’s perspectives on self-testing, with constant PCR testing becoming a requirement, as well as the use of lateral flow tests, we believe people will soon embrace new ways of identifying other medical conditions from the comfort of their own home, changing the way people engage with their own health management.
Remote testing and diagnosis really is the future for 21st century healthcare. It will only make healthcare much more accessible and ease the pressure on clinicians and medics – the outcome is nothing short of positive and will undoubtedly prevent a repeat of the biggest health crisis of modern times.
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