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COVID-19 boosts the new Digital Health conquest of the world- The patient-centric perspective

COVID-19 and the post COVID-19 World turn Digital Health from a “good to have” trend into a vital requirement at the public and at individual levels.

The COVID-19 outbreak caused by a new coronavirus made conventional care impossible as the social distancing and lockdown placed a barrier to regular patient-doctor encounters. The burden to the hospitals, emergency rooms, and intensive care units surged to levels that may not be sustainable. The result is a burning need to reshape the healthcare systems over the entire globe, to scale up services by allowing a patient-centric approach, providing remote services, avoiding face-to-face on-site meetings whenever possible, reducing the need to commute or spend time in waiting rooms.

The COVID-19 pandemic has consequences beyond the viral disease itself, with its related morbidity and mortality, as it impacts the overall health and wellbeing of households, threatens financial security, and causes anxiety and sleeplessness.

The role of digital health in the pursuit of universal healthcare turned into an urgent need while the COVID-19 pandemic mandates social distancing and a prolonged lockdown.

While the hospitals, municipalities, countries and communities need solutions beyond the immediate care for the corona patients and a vaccine, they are on a continuous pursuit for efficient and scalable new ways of care for patients, for disease preventions, and for risk management. Special care is required for the most vulnerable ones, the elderly and those with various chronic diseases or immune-compromised.

The world needs to create a new patient-centric healthcare system that works. Digital health is already here to serve the community during this crucial time. This is a global emergency, as the conventional healthcare system is unable to provide adequate solutions not only for the pandemic-related added load, but also for the ongoing, regular medical care and the increasing demands for mental health support. The problem is crystal clear. All digital health players understand the message and are searching for solutions. The digital health technology gets a powerful tailwind.

When it comes to digital health development, especially during COVID-19, data are a key factor for research, efficient disease prevention, and personalized health care.

Monitoring sleep can help detecting undiagnosed sleep disorders, and treating those may help

to prevent general health deterioration as well as help with comorbid health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, anxiety and depression.

Sleep evaluation and efficient treatment of sleep disorders such as Insomnia and Sleep Apnea provide an important additional layer of care for a variety of health disorders, which are clearly amplified when people do not get enough sleep, or when their sleep is of poor quality. Sleep loss and sleep disorders increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, stress and mental health disorders.

Sleep difficulties have already reached an epidemic level. For instance, more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the long-term health consequences of this can be serious, leading to increased morbidity, decreased life expectancy, and an overall lower quality of life. Poor sleep also reduces productivity and affects mood.

When we discuss digital health and sleep, remote monitoring is not enough. There is a genuine need for triaging and digital interventions in sleep medicine.

Digital health, with its new developing technologies, focusses on providing capabilities for virtual procedures to be performed at home, without the need for clinic visits or face-to-face meetings with providers.

And indeed, when professional help is unavailable, or when the problems experienced are not emergencies, simple measures such as creating a regular daily routine, planning healthy meals, training daily by doing some simple fitness exercises, practicing relaxation or meditation or yoga, can help. There are countless self-help digital health solutions out there, mobile applications for healthy nutrition, fitness, relaxation.

Same about sleep. The availability of digital health technology allows people to reduce and even to solve sleep problems in the comfort of their own home.

Aetna initiated a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of a mobile CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) solution to improve sleep quality, workplace productivity, and health. This study showed that the availability of digital health technology allows people to solve, or at least reduce, sleep deficiencies in the comfort of their own home, leading to greater workplace productivity and quality of life.

Yet, the challenge of digital health, not just during the COVID-19 crisis, is that there is no ‘one-fits-all solution’ and there is a great need for hybrid solutions to include: (1) self-help tools for patients that can be used in the comfort of their own home, with no human intervention at all, and (2) virtual tools to allow effective and scalable remote interactive interventions by physicians, psychologists, providers.

Only with comprehensive solutions for measurement, diagnosis and interventions, made possible by appropriate digital health technology, we be will efficient and effective in dealing with the future threats, so as  to respond to a next “COVID-19-like epidemic,” by providing quality healthcare at scale, and in a cost-effective manner.

Sleeprate’s SaaS sleep solutions platform supports sleep self-care and sleep telemedicine to provide good care for patients with sleep disorders.

 

 

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