From ensuring swift medical aid to protecting the frontline healthcare workers and streamlining the health records nationally, the onset of COVID-19 has led to permanent changes in Pakistan’s healthcare system.
Contactless technologies that fulfill the need for social distancing are fast transforming the health systems around the world and are the need of the hour in Pakistan, too, considering the devastating impact of the virus.
Within two months after the outbreak, 253 Pakistani healthcare professionals were COVID-19 positive, a number that continues to rise. Pakistan also lost COVID battling doctors, nurses, and technicians, among other healthcare professionals in the hundreds.
The lack of PPE gear, among other preventative measures, and the discouragement of hospital visits for those who suspect themselves to be COVID-19 positive and the closure of outpatient departments (OPDs) across the country due to the rising infection rate, prompted the development of digital health care technologies.
Numerous ventures and startups, including Oladoc, Marham, Sehat Kahani, and Click Drs, have been instrumental in promoting digital platforms in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and its devastating impact on Pakistan’s healthcare system.
So far, Marham has seen over 20,000 doctors register with its digital portal and a boost of around 400% in digital appointments at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pakistan government also launched chatbots, a helpline to diagnose patients as per their symptoms, and a telehealth portal to facilitate coronavirus checkups.
Tele-health technologies enable doctors to conduct their operations virtually. Software applications allow them to video call patients and analyze their symptoms.
However, despite the imperativeness of digital technologies for healthcare considering the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving health-tech, a reluctance to embrace these technologies, low quality of internet connections, and a lack of digital awareness constitute a major hindrance towards digital healthcare accessibility.
Source: MIT Technology Review