The Impact Of Technology When Fighting A Pandemic
We explore how modern technology can be a help, and a hindrance, when fighting a global pandemic.
Modern technology can be a blessing when fighting a global pandemic like the Coronavirus outbreak. It provides opportunities for better access to healthcare, rapid advances in research and a plethora of communication channels to keep people updated.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, leader of the World Health Organisation team that visited China to assess the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak explained recently how technology helped when the Coronavirus outbreak began:
“They moved 50 percent of all medical care online so people didn’t come in. Have you ever tried to reach your doctor on Friday night? Instead, you contacted one online. If you needed prescriptions like insulin or heart medications, they could prescribe and deliver it.”
We are fortunate to have access to multiple communication channels to stay updated on the latest Coronavirus news. Social media is a wonderful resource for connecting people to their communities and sharing timely updates.
However, social media is also renowned for being a breeding ground for so-called ‘fake news’. This refers to false stories and statements that are created by scammers and then published on social media. As people share these updates, so the ‘fake news; is spread. This can cause a great deal of concern and, in some cases, even harm. The best advice is to sense check any facts you see on social media against a reputable source.
For Coronavirus in particular, the best source for accurate information is on the Public Health England website.
You can also follow their social media channels on:
Access to online healthcare services
In the UK, online healthcare services have been available for some, but their popularity has sky-rocketed since the COVID-19 virus became widely publicised. Many doctors’ surgeries have closed or are prioritising urgent cases, so it can be difficult to gain physical access to a GP.
This affects patients who are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus but also those who have other generalised medical complaints. The rise in online healthcare services means it’s now possible to book an appointment, have a consultation and get a prescription or referral without even leaving your home. The internet, especially on mobile, is a huge enabler of access to healthcare services and is a great example of how modern technology can help when fighting a pandemic.
However, cost can be prohibitive for some patients. Some large well-known private healthcare companies in the UK can charge as much as £70 for a single GP appointment. Luckily, there’s been a big increase in smaller startup companies that are offering more affordable online healthcare services.
Without technology, it’s safe to say that most businesses would have shut down completely at the start of the UK lockdown. Unfortunately, this is still the case for many companies who are unable to continue operating as they have lost clients or don’t have the capacity to function remotely.
But for many others, work has simply been moved to take place remotely, meaning business can continue almost as usual. From files, servers and documents being hosted in the Cloud to internet-enabled devices meaning people can work from anywhere, technology has been a lifeline for many employers and their staff.
The main drawback of remote working is that it can be difficult to ‘switch off’ or follow one’s usual work routine. Working from home isn’t ideal for many people due to their family circumstances or uncomfortable living conditions. And, for those people who are self-isolating on their own, remote working can lead to mental health issues and poor physical health. It’s very important for remote workers to make time for self-care, exercise and online socialisation, like video chats and phone calls.
If you’re suffering from mental health issues related to Coronavirus, remote working or general anxiety, our team of GPs can provide support and advice online. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help.
Modern technology is likely to continue having a big impact as people around the globe work to fight the spread of Coronavirus. We’ll no doubt begin to see innovative products emerge in the healthtech space soon, with apps that can help track symptoms, monitor temperatures and provide real-time infection rates already being trialled in certain countries.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus, such as a fever, persistent dry cough or breathing difficulties, do not visit your doctor or local A&E. Instead, call NHS 111 immediately or 999 for emergencies.
While we cannot directly diagnose the virus over video-consultation, we can advise and support you with the symptoms while you self-isolate and convalesce. Use the below code COVID-19 when you book your first appointment with one of our GPs for 50% off our normal advertised one-off appointment cost.