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COVID-19 - Implementation science and innovative health services

Wed. 25. Mar 2020 13:24

In a very short time, the new coronavirus pandemic has had enormous impact on society and healthcare systems. Now, more than ever, we need to use digital solutions for consulting and treating patients.

Different digital technologies are growing fast in their impact on society and this pandemic will continue to push the need for implementing digital solutions, such as video consultations, telemedicine, and mobile health. Video consultations are now widely used for treatment and interaction between healthcare professionals and patients. An example of mobile health reaching a new level of necessity was when 2000 crew and passengers on the Diamond Princess Cruise ship were provided with mobile phones to enable teleconsultations with medical doctors under the crisis circumstances.

The relevance of innovative and digital solutions is not limited to cases of COVID-19 or somatic disorders, as the current crisis is more than likely to increase the need for mental health services across the globe. The ‘black swan’ for mental health care and a turning point for e-health by Tim R. Wind, Marleen Rijkeboer, Gerhard Andersson, and Heleen Riper argues that

the obvious solution to continue mental health care within a pandemic is to provide mental health care at a ‘warm’ distance by video-conferencing psychotherapy and internet interventions

and urges

practitioners to promptly start adopting e-mental health care applications, both as methods to continue their care to current patients in need and as interventions to cope with the imminent upsurge in mental health symptoms due to the coronavirus”.

Implementation of eHealth and eMental health services has been going on for decades, and faced many obstacles, but what was a challenge just a few weeks ago is now essential to keep the healthcare system going without risking the virus spreading through contact. Many clinics within the mental health sector are closed for ambulatory face-to-face therapy, but the need for therapy will increase as a result of COVID-19.

The increasing demand for therapy is happening in this moment from patients and relatives experiencing difficult times related to the COVID-19 outbreak. More long-term need for therapy will come from people’s anxiety, stress, grief, and depression also caused by the virus and its impact on society. Alongside the hardship, all these changes we are witnessing create a possibility for new thinking - and a lot of eHealth implementation.  

If you want to stay updated on relevant articles concerning developments in digital health during the pandemic on both European and global scale, you can read more here: https://www.ehtel.eu/covid-19-and-digital-health.html.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 733025.
This content reflects only the author's view and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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