The state of American's health has long been a concern. One in 10 now live with diabetes, 60% of adults have to manage acute and chronic diseases with medication, and there are more than 7 million people living with heart failure – the leading cause of hospitalization.
Enter the coronavirus in early 2020, and the focus on these chronic issues has been diminished to a great extent. Patients are staying at home to avoid exposure to the virus and physicians have been overwhelmed trying to manage the huge influx of patients presenting with COVID-19 symptoms. The fears surrounding the pandemic have caused patients to put off getting acute, emergency care for conditions like heart attacks, stroke and appendicitis, leading to worsening outcomes. And those with chronic diseases have put off their maintenance care, which is key to preventing complications and their conditions from worsening.
Even though we are still facing a significant uphill battle in containing and preventing coronavirus, we cannot afford to continue ignoring basic routine healthcare activities. If we do, our country not only will be a hotbed for COVID-19, it will also be the epicenter of preventable diseases.
The unseen sufferers of the pandemic – those with acute and chronic conditions not being managed, and those who may be at risk for them – will continue to put significant pressure on our already-strained healthcare resources.
To stem the coming tsunami of preventable diseases across the country, our healthcare system needs to find a way to be more proactive in caring for patients. In a recent article in HIT Consultant, I discussed these challenges. A key to addressing them is applying technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), within the healthcare realm to regain focus on those unseen sufferers. AI will enable insights so providers can prioritize care for those who are at greatest risk and develop strategies to help those on the cusp get the care they need to prevent complications.
- Linda Hand
About the Author: Linda Hand is CEO of Prealize Health.