Beyond Corona: What’s Next in Health?

Has health and the application of healthcare ever been more important than now? The COVID-19 pandemic is a global emergency – right now – but how we deal with it, and what we learn from it, has critical implications for the future. It impinges on more than the disease itself: what of our mental health? What of the delivery of health in a red-zone world? What is, or should be, the future of healthcare?

Trainor was speaking on a panel chaired by Dr Markus Hengstschlager, head of the institute of medical genetics at the University of Vienna. Also underlining the coming mental health crisis was clinical and health psychologist Doctor Doris Malisching, an addiction counsellor and coach.

She warns of a surfit of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in coming months, among adults and children alike. “COVID-19 is making a significant impact on many people’s health,” she says, citing also insomnia and unhealthy coping strategies such as alcohol. Meanwhile, children’s increased access to screentime and gaming was leading to “craving symptoms similar to addiction”.

On the flip side, those without access to wifi or devices would miss out on educational development. 

Doctor Franz Gruber, specialist in microRNA studies and DNA profiling was in agreement – and warned to expect worse in the future. We must learn the lessons today to prepare for tomorrow. 

“This will not be the last pandemic,” he says. “They will occur more often than in the past. We must be more prepared than now [because] our system is quite fragile at the moment.” He urged governments to vaccinate and increase critical hospital beds. 

For Robin Famanfarmaian, professional speaker, entrepreneur, angel investor and author, the pandemic has helped prove her view that the delivery of healthcare must change. “The world is waking up to what I have been doing for five years,” she says, explaining how her chronic medical conditions are more frequently treated in the home where it is less likely she’ll pick up a condition from a hospital and where recovery time it far less. 

Professor Doctor Shafi Ahmed, surgeon, teacher, futurist, innovator and entrepreneur, is a big believer in virtual medicine and hopes the pandemic will drive things further.

“This is really what I called an inflection point for humanity.” He says.  “Healthcare will change dramatically for the better.

“In my hospital now, in surgical clinics, there is telephone triage or virtual clinics, patients will not need to come to hospital anymore. A lot of it can be done online. Therefore, things like chronic disease management monitoring is going to change because those patients used to clog up the healthcare system.”

His worry is that social care must also be aligned,yet is positive for the global future of tackling pandemics. Ahmed concluded: ”I think the waves in the global coverage come together. I think this will be a transition in the future where that global community will do even more to survive the next pandemic, which is inevitable.”

Catherine Turner
Catherine Turner is a freelance journalist and editorial consultant, based in the UK. She has worked on regional and national newspapers as well as across the country's leading marketing, innovation and media titles She also works directly with brands and agencies globally on thought leadership and content development.