The pandemic has accelerated remote access to healthcare. Visiting a physician in person has become less common as face-to-face appointments have been restricted even further. Thus, over-the-phone consultations grew in popularity.1
For decades, telehealth utilization has stayed in the single digits. While after the start of the pandemic it took only one month to reach 40%.2 And this is just the beginning. The initial wave of virtual care last year was mainly around transactional services. Now, we’ll start to see it spread into a broader set of care models.
As a result, there will be a vast array of new patient/clinician dynamics. For example, patients will be able to gain access to providers virtually, internationally, any time of the day.2 How does it trickle down to women’s health? Digital health tools for improving information and access to contraception became essential during the pandemic. International gynecology organizations such as FIGO issued a statement urging health professionals to maximize the use of technology to exchange information with women.3
Digital connectivity relied primarily on established tools such as mobile phones, websites, or call centers but there was an unexpected newcomer in women’s health: Social media. This brings us to the next lasting trend.
#2 The Unexpected Rise of Social Media
Pictured yourself pre-pandemic logging into Instagram or Facebook to connect with your doctor? And what about TikTok – a channel that grew exponentially in these past 12 months?
Social media has been utilized more than ever and in somehow unexpected ways. A number of clinicians across specialties bridged the in-person consultation gap by using social media. Gynecologists created accounts to communicate with women on topics around gynecology and contraception which became even more critical during Covid. Dr. Kristina Dervaitis – a gynecologist from Canada – uses her Instagram and Youtube channels to speak Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices (IUD). She makes short and powerful videos dedicated to demystifying and answering common questions related to IUDs.
Dr.Lincoln and Dr. Dervaitis – their Youtube channels deal with topics around gynecology and brith control.
With over 1 million followers on TikTok and 60K on Instagram, Dr. Jennifer Lincoln – a gynecologist from the US – is a women’s health social media sensation. In an easy-to-understand way, Dr. Lincoln provides evidence-based information, separates myths from reality, and answers all sorts of common questions related to gynecology and women’s health.
We are convinced that the social media is a lasting change. And that even though these channels don’t provide personalized medical advice today, it does not mean that the technology may not evolve to becoming also a one-to-one tool. In the meantime, its increased use speaks for itself and we are glad that it served and continues to serve so many women.
#3 The Increased Focus on Self-Care
New research from GSK Consumer Healthcare and Ipsos shows that the COVID-19 pandemic is encouraging people to take their health into their own hands, and experts say this trend towards self-care could be a significant boom for healthcare systems.4
Patient-centric health is not a new concept. For years, big and small industry players have invested in technologies such as wearables to enable individuals more control of their own health and deliver more personalized care.
The combination of existing technology platforms and devices and an appetite from individuals for self-care will accelerate health innovation in ways that we could not envision before. Industry players in Contraception shared their view last week during the Innovation Contraception Summit, an industry event that brings together key players in the space focused on advancing Women’s Healthcare. Today, they are working fast and furious to bring more options than ever to women and couples that will meet their needs through their reproductive life.
We can only speculate that if self-care is indeed a lasting trend, it be incorporated as an attribute in future developments across all contraceptive options, including IUDs which are today considered the gold standard. If Nasa was able to put the rover Perseverance into Mars, is it too far out to imagine an IUD designed with self-care in mind?
Breakthrough innovations are greatly shaped by trends, that is why the medical industry keeps a pulse on the market. Yet, such transformations take years to arrive at clinicians and end-users. In the very near term, however, there are exciting new efforts in development to make IUD contraceptives appealing to even more women. Aspivix is one player working tirelessly to lower pain and trauma often associated with the IUD procedure to expand adoption.
Telehealth, social media, and self-care are these trends or fads? What have you experienced in these past 12 months that you believe are lasting changes? Are you a clinician, patient, industry player in Women’s Health? We would love to hear from you.
Author: Team ASPIVIX