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DID COVID RESUSCITATE VIRTUAL HEALTH?

It was seen as the next big thing - but for 10 - 15 years, virtual health has not been the disruptor in healthcare that it was promised to be but, has Covid changed that?

We have already seen that Telehealth has been catapulted from zero to hero in a matter of weeks following the first lockdown in 2020, but virtual health is more than a video consultation with your GP.

We are defining virtual health across three categories—telehealth, digital therapeutics, and care navigation  - these are defined in the chart below (helpfully published by McKinsey).

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Care navigation is of particular interest (to us) as it may form the basis of how patients choose their treatment.

econsult was set up by a group of GPs in the UK and has been adopted by over 3000 NHS GP surgeries. eConsult is a form-based online consultation platform that collects your medical or administrative request and sends it through to your GP practice to triage and decide on the right care for you and everyone else.

ePAQ is an electronic questionnaire that patients can use to improve diagnosis and outcomes by aiding the communication process between patient and consultant. 

Developed by a consultant Gynaecologist and IT professionals ePAQ has combined the accuracy and reliability of validated self-completed patient friendly questionnaires with intelligent computer software analysis and reporting.

The conditions it deals with are particularly difficult for some patients to discuss and it has been shown to be more effective in allowing patients to describe the problems they are facing.

Apple has entered the Health space quite aggressively with the watch an integral part . Owners of the watch right back to series 1 can set it to alert if it detects atrial fibrillation with an alert to contact a physician should it detect irregularities. 

The later models can take heart readings and via an ECG app share those results with a doctor. Apple Health is also moving towards storing clinical data so all your procedures, vaccinations, lab results, medications and more will live in the app.

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Perhaps the best indication though that virtual health is really on the move is the fact that investment is pouring into the sector. K Health in the USA uses machine learning to lower the cost of care by providing the bulk of the company's health assessments. - it raised $222 million in 2020 from investors interested in its model of being a virtual primary care provider.