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Technological impact of COVID‐19 – Queen – 2021 – International Wound Journal

Daily living has changed immeasurably since the world was introduced to COVID‐19. The global pandemic has not spared a single geography around the globe. Now, nearly 1 year later, most of us are at home, using tools like Zoom, and other technologies to stay in touch with family and colleagues. We are buying almost everything online and having it delivered to our door, including groceries and prescriptions sometimes. The importance of technology in our lives has never been more apparent. Although many technologies and platforms existed pre‐pandemic, their importance to our daily living increased exponentially during the pandemic. This is likely to continue in many areas post‐pandemic.

The pandemic will have long‐term impact on our society. An area where we are bound to see such effects is technology, which will inevitably be influenced by the lessons learned during an unprecedented and difficult period in our history.

The following examples are some of the key areas where COVID‐19 is reshaping the future of technology, particularly in the health care arena and this includes wound care.

1 BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES

We all live and behave differently during the midst of the global pandemic, including our consumer sentiment and utilisation of technologies. Will this change post pandemic? It is unlikely that people will return to life as it was before the outbreak. Instead, there will likely be a new normal where a level of nervousness persists at least for a period.

This new normal could underpin the future of technology and human interaction with it. For example, in order to stem the spread of COVID‐19 many governments already make use of geo‐location data from our smartphones to do contact tracing. Early into the pandemic, both Google and Apple said they are working with governments to use their technology to track and limit the spread of the virus. For most, such government intrusion would be unacceptable but during a pandemic we recognise its importance and utility for good rather than sinister means. So far this is mostly voluntary in most jurisdictions, but we may see adoption become mainstream if doing so means returning to a new normal.

2 DISTANT INTERACTION

There is no doubt to most, that one of the most significant impacts of COVID‐19 is on the way we work. So far, the pandemic has shown that many of us are able to work from home effectively than we previously believed was possible. More and more companies are investing in cloud solutions, videoconferencing, and communication tools, to permit home‐based interaction. One benefit to all of humankind is the overlap with personal, non‐work‐related interactions (eg, family zoom parties).

A more distant interaction includes medicine. The greater availability and utility of telehealth technologies almost certainly comes as a result of the pandemic. Such options are not only key to slowing the spread of the virus but also to ensure our systems can continue serving all patients with all conditions.

We have seen an influx of telehealth technology powering secure video appointments, secure messaging systems, online appointment scheduling systems, online prescribing, and distant consultation, to name a few of the changes. Technology has one of the most important roles not only to meet the challenges of the pandemic, but also to better prepare us for whatever comes next.

COVID‐19 has clearly changed medical education, both graduate and CME. By limiting the amount of hands‐on time clinicians can spend with non‐COVID patients, and the higher workload clinicians face day to day the knowledge gap is increasing. Technological interventions such as remote consultation, virtual case review, and online educational resources have been introduced or accelerated to meet this need. As such we are becoming more comfortable using a variety of technology platforms and techniques.

Webinars and e‐learning, including CME, have gained exponential traction, and their use and cost‐effectiveness will remain important in the post‐pandemic era. While many medical conferences have been postponed or cancelled, technology has permitted virtual meetings that offer versatility for busy, overwhelmed clinicians. This may, however, be the future for medical conferences, providing a hybrid approach of blending digital with face‐to‐face experience.

3 A WHOLE NEW WORLD

Many of the technological changes imposed so rapidly on our health care systems by the pandemic, have been positive and may be beneficial as we move forward. Clinicians must be objective in assessing the changes and retain only those that clearly improve health care as we enter the new normal. The new normal will reshape technology priorities for corporations and governments, including greater investment in telehealth and contactless digital alternatives to touch interfaces. Both patients and clinicians alike have experienced the positives and negatives of distant interaction. Will such measures become part of the new normal? Will it become a regular part of health care monitoring and understanding? It is our responsibility to ensure the legacy of this forced experimentation. Play your part, preserve the best, and do not go back to the old normal.

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