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New technologies such as telehealth and home monitoring were adopted rapidly at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are here to stay, according to panelists in the Thursday session The Rapid Rise of TeleHealth as a Result of COVID-19.

“At some point we were forced to do e-schooling, home delivery, and home healthcare as well,” said Roberto Ascione, CEO at Healthware International. Ascione noted changes in the healthcare environment, including consumers learning how to use personal medical devices, AI-powered prevention tools, and data-driven management of complex chronic disease. Some digital health platforms integrate visits, deliveries, and ongoing care, and there are more platforms for engagement like health coaches. Some companies have rolled out home care monitoring solutions for COVID-19 (in Italy). There are even video games approved as therapeutics.

In the future, “Everything that can be digital will be,” Ascione said.  Doctors will still exist, but the way they work will be different. “If digital health delivers on its promise, it will be more human,” he said.

Physician executive Ali Hasan noted that consumer behavior changed as well. People at first avoided care, but they now are taking more accountability for their care, balancing risks, and in some cases there is more urgency to get things done. Access has been preserved, but it will take years to figure out the right mix of virtual and in-person care, he said. “We are living in one giant experiment,” Hasan said, and digital health will be at the heart of this transformation.

Gerald Wilmink, CEO of CarePredict, described his company’s wearable device for seniors that collects information to predict when seniors are at risk for issues such as falls, depression, UTIs, etc. This is needed because it is harder for people to observe older family members, especially during COVID-19. “If we can get upstream, we can capture changes and activities that can help predict and prevent a problem,” Wilmink said. The company built models for risk based on data and can capture movements and activities—even how much the wearer eats—and map them to longitudinal behavioral data.

The session was created as part of a content collaboration between AHIMA and Frontiers Health, in cooperation with Healthware Group. A second session on artificial intelligence takes place Friday at 9:00 a.m. CT. In addition, both organizations will collaborate on sessions at the Frontiers Health Hybrid Conference next month.

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