How Tech is Transforming Healthcare During COVID-19

Aug 12, 2020 · 4 min read

Faced with new demands posed by patients in lockdown, tech has stepped up in the battle against COVID-19. Since the outbreak began, demand for telehealth has soared by 500% as patients access medical advice via video on their phone, tablet, or computer. It’s easily one of the most significant transitions to occur in healthcare. But is telehealth here to stay? And how will tech change the future of frontline care?

by: Andrew Upah

The tech supporting healthcare heroes

There’s nothing new about telemedicine — it’s been around for at least two decades. Yet, before the crisis, only 1 in 10 Americans had tried it. Now, with frontline workers swamped and at risk of contracting the virus, telehealth — from companies like TelaDoc, Amwell, and SnapMD — provides a safe way for patients to consult their physician. And as a result, health care organizations are scrambling to employ a range of technologies from online triaging tools to robots and artificial intelligence (AI) to assess high-risk patients.

  • Chatbots
    With frontline workers under pressure, health companies are using self-triaging tools like chatbots to walk consumers through a checklist of symptoms and frequently asked questions prior to speaking with a professional. Providence Digital Innovations Group in Washington reported a spike to more than one million messages through its chatbot, Grace, within a month of the breakout.

How is Big Tech Handling COVID-19? Read Our Guide to Emerging Best Practices

Bumps in the road

While new healthcare tech has plenty of upsides, any crisis-driven change will come with its own challenges.

  • Cybersecurity: With many employees now working remotely there’s justifiable concern about health systems being targeted by opportunistic criminals. Despite virtual desktop interfaces (VDI) and robust endpoint security, this shift to a virtual workforce leaves health organizations vulnerable for the short term.

The road ahead for telehealth

The intersection between tech and healthcare has become a crucial battleground in the frontline fight against coronavirus. Scaleable, safe, and speedy, it’s proven essential in protecting healthcare workers and patients alike. And as innovation in telehealth and other tech-enabled services continues to evolve at pace, it is likely to prompt a fundamental shift in the way we experience healthcare long after the crisis recedes.


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