The COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of problems in the world when people first started getting infected back in 2019. The pandemic swept across the world, disrupting the lives of everyone it touched, as well as industries, economies and whole ways of working. During the health crisis, everything changed. People were forced to lock down and work from home; businesses and workplaces switched gears in order to keep the doors open and the lights on; and governments issued mandates and got to work on fighting the virus.
Even in the aftermath of the pandemic, there are plenty of industries that are still operating as they did during it, and there are plenty of ripple effects from the pandemic lifestyle that we still see today. Businesses are becoming hybrid workplaces, delivery is through the roof, and the world economy still hasn’t fully recovered. However, nowhere is the effect of the pandemic felt more strongly than in hospitals.
Hospitals, and the people working in them, were the first line of defense for those who needed help and treatment. However, many existing hospitals were also forced to change, evolve and upgrade in order to take on a new threat that the medical community hadn’t seen before. Nowhere was this seen more than in the field of technology, and it is still possible to see the effects of the pandemic today.
Below is a quick rundown of how hospitals and the technology they used had to evolve due to the pandemic, and why they have kept the changes going.
How the COVID-19 pandemic affected hospitals
Of course, many hospitals simply found themselves overwhelmed, especially in the early stages of the pandemic. People were getting sick and showing symptoms, but they weren’t always showing the same symptoms, and some people were dying from the illness, while others fought it off. Additionally, no one knew how the disease was spread; no one knew how to stop it or what treatments would work; and more and more cases were arriving every day.
The regular medical emergencies, illnesses and other problems didn’t stop, further putting a strain on most hospitals. During the pandemic, it became evident just how important doctors and nurses were to the world of healthcare, and it also became clear that they would need to evolve to face the pandemic and its effects.
The COVID-19 pandemic and telehealth
The biggest effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the medical industry was how care was performed. Due to certain circumstances such as a lack of beds, patients already feeling ill, the large number of patients coming in each day, and lockdown laws, many people who might have needed help simply couldn’t get to a doctor. This meant that the doctor would have to come to them, and telehealth was the answer.
Telehealth focused on connecting doctors and patients virtually through a phone call or video call, which kept patients out of the hospital but still connected to the care they needed. People would be able to share their symptoms or other problems with a doctor, and if the problem was a minor one, it was handled without the patient ever leaving the home. This meant that the people who were coming to the hospital were those who needed to be in there, and also that the monitoring of COVID-19 cases and the contact tracing could be automated and carried out much more efficiently.
Remote medical healthcare was a lifesaver for both doctors and patients during the pandemic, and it continues to be so post-pandemic. A lot of people really like the convenience of simply setting up an appointment and getting reassurance about medical care from home, rather than having to take time out of their busy day to head to the doctor and make an appointment.
Telehealth also allows for medical care to reach more people who need help. Now, people who have the internet can get some level of medical assistance where they might not have been able to do so before. Removing social and geographical limitations is going to be helpful, and it is going to allow people to continue leading healthier lives.
Finally, while telehealth is largely automated, there is a live nurse at the end of it waiting to talk to the patient. Simply being able to talk to a real person rather than contending with a robot was beneficial to many people.
Clinical mobility was boosted
Clinical mobility refers to the use of digital devices, such as mobile computers and tablets, to give doctors and nurses a handheld option when it comes to gathering and using patient data. It keeps them mobile and up to date with the information regarding the patient; it allows for patients to get better care; and it provides a more efficient workflow for those working with the patient. As the processes can be streamlined, more and more patients can be helped.
Also, this enables the information to be shared between doctors and nurses much more quickly, allowing for a faster response if a patient needs some extra help or an answer to be given to a question about a procedure.
The COVID-19 pandemic increased the level of technology used by nurses
A hospital is a hotbed of technology and machines that work to keep patients alive and monitored, ensure that nurses and doctors are able to have the information they need when they need it, and provide much-needed support both during the day-to-day hospital life and during crises. However, with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and more technology being used to track cases and communicate with patients, technology became even more important.
For example, many hospitals worked together to build a command center that could connect hospitals and departments with patients. Simply by looking at the information presented on the dashboard, a hospital could share information with an entire network and direct different patients to the departments that could handle them. This was much easier than suddenly having to deal with an influx of patients and manage this chaos while also attempting to get the patients to where they could be helped.
Additionally, automation has been employed more. For example, many nurses now have a monitoring workstation that allows them to see the vitals and other relevant information on several patients all at once, without them having to head to every room one by one to check them all. By being able to see everything that they need to know all at once, nurses are able to work with more patients without having the quality of the care drop. They are also able to respond to emergencies the instant they happen.
How are new nurses learning to use this technology?
With the chaos of the pandemic over and the world slowly starting to return to some sense of normality, the new technology has stuck around, and this is bringing up the question of how best to teach new incoming nurses on how to use the new technology. After all, nurses need to learn how to input data into their command centers, how to transfer their bedside manner to telehealth services, and how to read and understand all of the digital information. Walsh University offers a wide range of online degrees that offer students up-to-date training on information including the various types of technology used.
While some on-the-job training is a necessity for learning how to use a specific hospital’s equipment, for many nurses it starts whenever they are being educated. Learning about nursing and getting a degree from an institution such as Walsh University can ensure that nurses know all about the latest trends that are happening in the world of technology.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a faster pace of evolution
While it is very likely that medical technology would have evolved to this point with or without COVID-19, the pandemic did force many fields of technology and industry to adopt it more quickly. Technology that might have taken months and years to be tested, approved and fully implemented was suddenly introduced in a matter of weeks.
The world was forced to evolve much faster in many ways, and healthcare was one of them. Ultimately, healthcare was expanded to reach more people, and this has had a great many benefits.