Since lockdown ensued pretty much across the Globe (as at 28 April it was estimated a third of the 7.8bn global population was under some form of lockdown), politicians, economists, media outlets, business advisers and any one with a social media account has been commenting, quite rightly in my opinion, how this tragic pandemic must result in 'real change'.
I have read Working From Home will become more of an acceptable business practice (even for archaic industries like our legal sector, with video Court hearings being successful and, at times, preferred), even the age-old gender stereotype (men at work, women at home) is being questioned, with CNBC reporting 24% of US workers want to work more form home and c 50% of the time saved from the commute is being beneficially used-up by quality family time.
One other real change resulting from social distancing measures has been the rise of e-platforms for virtual (online) medical consultations; telehealth as the US like to call it. Historically, a practice (not dissimilar from the legal sector) shrouded in uncertainty as a more thorough and 'trustful' examination and diagnosis process was expected to be exclusively reserved for the face-to-face (whites of their eyes) interactions. However, with certain platform owners seeing exponential rates of growth and media outlets reporting the practice 'exploding in popularity', it is hard to dispute that if patient-care (both in terms of time and quality of service) is not to be hindered in the long-term by COVID-19 and the mindset of both clinicians and patients is evolving as a result, online/remote consultations are quite possibly here to stay.
There are, of course, hurdles in the way - only 54 per cent of patients over the age of 74 in the UK have internet access in their homes - and certain diagnoses simply require access to equipment which isn't available on a phone app or in a kitchen drawer. But, if we are to come out of these dark-times with messages of hope and optimism, perhaps online medical consultations is one of these things; ultimately providing more rapid access to medical practitioners at a time when the healthcare systems across the Globe are being challenged to their most extreme. To assist with this, we do need our legislators and regulators to keep pace in order to harness the benefit it could have for all.
Until recently, our eConsult platform used to run at 10,000 remote consultations a month, this has now risen to over 30,000 a day, with Monday morning peaks of over 3,000 per hour. We used to onboard 50 new practices a month, but now onboard over 50 new practices a day, taking us to over 2,450 practices covering over 21.5 million patients.