Creating healthier futures for ill children

The turning point for digital health

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, not only access to care is changing - without a choice, health care, in general, is being redefined. With that said, the crisis could result in an opportunity to bring connected health to the forefront and essentially reshape the future of healthcare like it was written also by Eric Wicklund in the mHealth Intelligence earlier in March.

It is time to act now as patients have other healthcare needs that are unrelated to the COVID-19. It is especially important as the treatment for other diseases, such as chronic illnesses, needs to continue, yet patients are afraid of going to the hospital because they might catch the virus. In order to take current health and safety concerns seriously, healthcare professionals and patients are turning to telemedicine. Fortunately there are many solutions already available that can be deployed immediately. And digital tools, in general, are gaining more attention because we are seeing now how these can be used in this public health crisis.

We are witnessing how the governments are allocating budgets for the immediate adoption of digital tools as successful digital health innovations can deliver so much value. Since the access to care is changing and people are required to adapt to the new situation that results in (social) isolation, it is essential that evidence-based digital solutions are deployed immediately. Patient needs have to be met even if the traditional healthcare systems have entered into the state of emergency to help the most critically affected cases. It is expected that all other cases urgently need to utilize the opportunities that the remote healthcare offers. It is especially important in an effort to mitigate risks that are related to minimizing human contact.

Since we are working with children with health issues, who are not specifically in the risk group, they are still affected by the crisis and not only from the perspective of changing access to care. The times are uncertain for everyone, way beyond chronic illness management. Taking care of mental health during the times of uncertainty is essential. When things feel uncertain or when people don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed. Adults have their own concerns during the time of crisis and kids are very observant of their environment. They are affected as well. Our solution focuses on the mental burden that is related to disease management, however, the underlying algorithms are helpful also in the case when there are no health issues present. The fear is still fear and the general distress can be relieved.

The least we can do at this stage would be supporting as many kids as possible (for the platform overview, please see our blog post). Without disease-specific content, our platform also includes an extension for kids who don’t have any health issues but would benefit from the additional health support. It can be very beneficial for any child (our target age range: 7-14) at this stage as the platform includes interactive and activity-based learning regarding health and wellbeing, psychological monitoring and support and teaches problem-solving skills among other features. The game also offers cognitive challenges and provides interactive relaxation techniques. It is noteworthy that our solution features also the section on hygiene - it is more important than ever at this stage. Our solution is available in English, Russian, Finnish, Estonian. And ready for immediate deployment.

Taken together, healthcare is being redefined whether we like it or not. It will most probably not happen overnight but the current healthcare system will definitely redefine how they see the patient and most probably adopt “digital first” approach extensively and very soon. This has been a work in progress for a long time, now we will witness the real shift.

Author

Dr. Kadri Haljas

Author

Dr. Kadri Haljas

Being an expert in the mental burden of chronic disease, Kadri is the idea generator and Triumf team leader. She has a background in clinical psychology and research.