That the entire world is going through a medical crisis is known to all. Several medical personnel are in search of the solution to the same. Here’s the perspective of doctors practicing functional medicine – Demystifying COVID-19 with Disruptive Thinking.
Demystifying COVID-19 with Disruptive Thinking
By Dr. Vivek Kadambi and Ms. Pooja Kadambi
Healthcare is undergoing a paradigm shift in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Regulatory barriers, pharmaceutical interests, government bureaucracy and outdated protocols have hindered COVID-19 efforts. We must embrace change to adapt to this situation and take it as an opportunity to learn. On the positive front, it seems that over 80% of those infected will make a full recovery with no significant complications and a further 18% will recover with intensive specialized care. Thus, treating this crisis as a wake-up call to move towards prevention, preparedness and broader environmental impact factor consideration is our best defense against future pandemics.
Root Cause Analysis
Many factors compounded to create a high-risk situation for a pandemic. Without precausions, such a risk will continue not just to exist, but rise. Contributing factors include:
- The insatiable desire for meat of all kinds of animals at volumes that are neither environmentally sustainable nor hygienic.
- A high dependency on vaccines for rapidly mutating entities like viruses. Such measures without trying to build natural immunity and boost body’s defences may not be the best approach.
- An extensively globalized society with international travel contributes to a rapid spread of a disease across the world. Passenger screening measures, plane air quality and the number of people being stuffed into planes must be considered.
- Densely populated areas like cities with malls, public transport, office cubicles, etc. facilitate community transfer.
- Combining a high population with poor hygiene habits like spitting, lack of handwashing and physical contact like shaking hands and hugging, leads to exponential spreading.
- Even hospitals facilitate the spread of a virus not only to other patients and vulnerable populations like pregnant women but to essential healthcare workers. Overcrowding emergency rooms, outpatient clinics and lack of personal protective equipment for doctors and patients during examinations and face to face consultations has lead to harm.
We should treat the lockdown as an opportunity to prepare for the next stages of life to mitigate morbidity and mortality. This rise will not just be from the coronavirus but from chronic disease patients unable to access care, a rise in mental health problems, a secondary wave of the virus due to careless individuals and an increase in illnesses associated with poor living conditions and diet of the poor.
Projected Impact on Healthcare
Majority of people are in a state of fear and anger about the COVID-19 crisis. Most educated people and healthcare professionals are in a state of learning, trying to grasp the situation. We need to move more and more people through this stage of learning and to the ultimate stage of growth. The stage of growth is about embracing change and improving as individuals, as communities and finally as a global system.
These are some of the major impacts on healthcare systems we may see globally:
- Evolution of the hospital avatar to be more for emergency care, surgical procedures and specific diagnostic tests and studies that involve radiation or specialized complex machines.
- There will be a rise for more point of care diagnosis, home healthcare and telemedicine consultations. This, combined with eCommerce for medication delivery and realtime audio and video capabilities, will revolutionize care across socioeconomic strata.
- Medical education should be updated to include a focus on prevention, remote care and crisis management. A greater focus on hygiene protocols and keeping up with research will help prepare the next generation of healthcare providers. Expanding education provided to support staff like Asha workers, nurses, administrators will help bolster the system.
- An open-minded mindset to look at the human body more holistically and focus on prevention, immunity-boosting and lifestyle will occur at the healthcare and individual level. Research on traditional healthcare like Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Naturopath, Yoga and so on will need to become more mainstream.
- The rapid adoption of technology like AI decision making, treatment simulators and individual predictive data analytics will occur. Those who do not adapt through adopting such measures will soon be phased out by market forces and regulatory demands.
The Community impact
A crisis can bring people together but also show us the ugly, selfish side of humanity. Because of COVID-19, humans around the world have been restricted like never before in the last 100 years. The positive impacts on the environment, wildlife, air quality and cleanliness cannot be ignored. There were already loud voices calling out for action against unsustainable practices and environmental harm. Humans will try to go back to nature to heal themselves and build strength through clean air, mineralized water, fresh food and improved personal and communal hygiene. While everything may go back to the way it was before, in a hyper consumption-centric society; it is more gratifying to be hopeful. In times of darkness and uncertainty, it is always better to look at the lessons we can learn and the blessings we have rather than what we are missing.