The current financial year has begun with an unforeseen challenge. While the whole world is busy fighting the Covid-19 situation, the economy has taken an obvious hit. It is expected that the post-outbreak economic situation would be significantly different in almost every part of the world.
But as people are realising the loopholes of the current systems in place, the need for revaluation of our economic activities and developmental strategies is fast arising.
The world economy needs a reboot and this reboot must drive the efforts towards making this world not only better but also ready for disasters and crises. We’re already in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution and technology is advancing at a mind-blowing pace.
This is an era where the humankind has ample man-power, intellect, and the tools to build the most efficient solutions. Once the Covid-19 situation is contained, and work can be resumed, as usual, developments must be directed towards building such solutions.
We will have the responsibility and opportunity to innovate solutions for any possible future healthcare crises. We would need to come up with innovations that make healthcare infrastructure and medical facilities available to even those in the remotest of the areas. Contactless healthcare solutions could help contain outbreaks well in time.
Here are some ideas for healthcare innovations for the near future.
Healthcare/Medical ATM Healthtech industry has great potential to connect the rural and remote areas. Healthcare or medical ATMs can help the rural/remote population in getting access to basic medical screening, prescriptions, medicines and first aid. These would resemble the traditional ATMs with a provision for medical screening, digital consultation and medicine dispensing.
Remote Medical Screening Devices Similar to the healthcare ATMs but for more advanced in medical screening, this innovation could help doctors screen patients remotely. This could be designed for the full body as well for specific parts or organs. Such devices would not only save time and money but also prevent the spread of infection.
Contactless Body Scanners It may sound similar to the above but contactless body scanners would be much more advanced and address a more complex range of medical issues. The patient would just require to stand or sit within a pod-like structure and the scanner would take 3-D imaging of the internal organs. Unlike the CT-Scan machines, it would not require the patient to go through a claustrophobic experience, and the contact with any surface would also be minimal.
Virtual Consultations (Remote Doctors) & Prescriptions Although many healthcare applications are already trying to make virtual consultation a viable option, it’s still not as reliable as an in-person appointment with a doctor. But with improved technology and video-conferencing quality, virtual consultations could become the norm; saving time, money and lives.
Temporary Isolation Camp Kits In the event of an outbreak/epidemic, isolation wards become indispensable, and it’s not easy to construct a medical ward in a short time. For such times, temporary (but sturdy) camp-like shelters can be made that withstand wind, rain and sun and offer the necessary isolation for the infected patients. These could be designed in a way that hospital staff could assemble it easily quickly by themselves.
Such a camp could save a lot of lives by cutting down the time to set up the infrastructure.
Seamless Masks for Medical Personnel In the past few days, we’ve seen images of nurses and doctors left with painful marks left behind by wearing masks over a long period of time. Medical equipment makers must collaborate with textile experts and come up with seamless masks that would be easy on the wearer’s skin and could be worn over a long period of time without affecting the skin.
UVGI Disinfection Devices Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation or UVGI could prove quite helpful in disinfecting all types of spaces/surfaces in a short time including high-risk areas like patient beds. Similar to a robotic vacuum cleaner, such devices could be programmed to disinfect a particular area. This would minimize human involvement and could help prevent the spread of infection.
Disinfectant Lighting Systems UVGI can also be used in lights and can prove helpful in disinfecting large areas without any extra effort of machinery or humans. This would not only save time and money but also save resources such as water and disinfectant liquid.
Drone Delivery Systems (For Medicines, Foods & Other Essentials) Last but not the least, drone delivery systems need to be one of the major large-scale changes that we need to bring into society at the earliest. Whether it’s an urgent requirement for blood, organ implant or medicine or essential commodities like food and water for disaster-struck areas, drones can prove much faster than the conventional manned-aircrafts. In some parts of the world, the use has been tested and proven beneficial but we need to take it several notches up. In times like curfews and lockdowns, access to medicines, rations and other necessities can be ensured by letting drones deliver to homes instead of people rushing to stores themselves.
Drones delivery systems have the potential to reduce physical contact, time and the social frenzy of panic stockpiling.
Solutions like these can help avert many possible dangers in the future. We all have learnt since our childhood that prevention is better than cure. Our medical/healthcare research and technology must not only focus on finding cures but also on preventing possible disasters. If preventive medical technologies can be evolved, pandemics like coronavirus would be contained with ease.