By Juma Bharadia
The year 2020 will be remembered for the Covid-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc around the world. This development – though unfortunate – should not be looked in the negative light, rather an opportunity that allows digital technologies in healthcare to evolve and fill the gaps in the industry. The technology was available and already ripe for use in most facets of life, specifically to our profession, healthcare delivery.
Current mode of healthcare delivery world over has its flaws but was considered a standard all around. Covid-19 pandemic brought to fore the shortcomings of traditional hospital-based healthcare delivery. Internationally the hospitals were overwhelmed with lack of beds, supplies and personnel. Hospitals were clearly not ready to cope up with the challenge of such a scale. Hospital administrations and providers were caught off-guard.
In 2017, a technologically aligned healthcare delivery model was suggested which would be more efficient, green and devoid of redundancies. It was countered by questions bordering on impossibility due to legislation and absence of requisite technology. Both limitations were understandably challenging and required extra bit of dedication to overcome. The dedication and determination are heightened with catastrophe which unfortunately is a driver for change.
Patients were isolated in the hospitals, whether they were admitted for Covid-19 or another illness. Isolation had profound psychological effects on patients because their loved ones could not visit to provide emotional support. There are technological solutions for this issue but were not used uniformly for a variety of reasons but largely due to lack of standards. Patients are likely to heal quicker when surrounded by loved ones due to emotional stability and calm.
VITAE (Vertically Integrated Technologically Aligned Ecosystem) model allows patients to stay put and get healthcare in person and/or digitally. Physician, specialists and other healthcare staff, laboratory and radiological services are available to the patient 24/7/365 without the patients having to leave their homes/location. With this model there is no concept of “to capacity” or “over capacity”, built in delay of physical ER and protected from infectious disease transmission as often is the case in crowded ERs.
Quarantine happens by design at patient’s home with the fewest possible outside contacts. Unlike other digital models VITAE has videography/photography capability with storage. Patients and healthcare providers can also text each other on a HIPAA compliant platform. This ability empowers patients, their loved ones and healthcare providers with all the requisite technology that enables swift recovery. VITAE is essentially a model that transforms hospital-centric healthcare into patient-centric one.
Legislations were passed emergently during the pandemic for telemedicine codes and payments, cross state licensing, and medication delivery. While the legislation may seem temporary, catastrophes cannot be predicted. It is therefore obligatory for the legislators to ponder these issues while calm prevails.
Covid-19 pandemic is considered by many as a great equalizer between haves and have nots, developed and developing nations and rural versus urban dwellers. In this era where WiFi is available even in the remote parts of the world, VITAE is digital equalizer for healthcare delivery and consumption. Patients, regardless of their geographic location, can access physician of their choice at the time and place of their convenience.
The VITAE model is the answer to the longstanding question of preparing for catastrophe ahead of time. While healthcare providers are embracing this model faster than ever, regulators need to make legislations that correspond with the pace of the technological advancements.
Juma Bharadia is the CEO of mHospital – an on-demand healthcare delivery services provider operating on the VITAE model. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Interventional Cardiology.