Times Have Changed – But Will It Stick After the Global Pandemic?
Author: Shannon Connelly
One of the most positive things to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the rapid acceleration of technology. The biggest players in this arena have obviously been video meeting software, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. As companies transitioned to work from home, these tools have become household names among employees, including myself. I had never used Teams before MJH Life Sciences installed it on our computers back in March at the start of COVID-19, and now I don’t think I’ll ever not use it on a day-to-day basis.
The urgency to move toward digital has certainly affected healthcare as well. For one, telemedicine has exploded in a big way. According to research from our fellow Truth Serum Network brand, HRA, while only 8% of HCPs used telehealth services prior to COVID-19, 88% have adopted the practice, and 90% plan to continue using it once the pandemic subsides. While the pandemic didn’t invent digital technology, it has certainly hit the gas pedal on widespread adoption of certain trends.
Another huge change is the pivot to virtual meetings, including heavy hitters like ASCO. I had covered the annual meeting as an editor for Targeted Oncology the past three years, and if you would’ve told me it would ever be able to go virtual, I would have called you crazy. It’s such a substantial meeting, where more than 30,000 professionals come from all over the world to present their research, learn, and network.
The in-person aspect of it seemed so essential; I thought it would need to be held live. The pandemic proved me wrong when the meeting was held virtually this past June, effectively opening access to many more participants than could’ve attended in person.
I’ve personally benefitted from virtual meetings over the past few months as well, as the increased access provided me an opportunity to learn much more. In April, I attended the virtual Eyeforpharma session – a meeting usually held in Philadelphia. It was not initially on my radar, but deciding to attend the three-day conference the night before was not a problem given the virtual format of the meeting. I was able to tune in throughout the day between work meetings and taking notes, which I later shared with my team. This learning opportunity for all of us might not have been so easy if it were held in person as usual.
One of the questions that keeps popping into my mind is if this massive growth of technology will stick once COVID-19 clears. I think being forced to rely so heavily on technology benefits us tremendously. How long would all of this digital growth have taken were it not for this global pandemic? And will we continue to push forward, or will our growth slow, both personally and as an industry, as things go back to “normal?”
The technology-centered influences I’ve seen in myself and in others during COVID-19 have been very encouraging. My mom, for instance, a personal trainer who is notoriously technology illiterate, figured out how to use Zoom to teach exercise classes for her clients throughout the past six months. My friends and I, who had never so much as FaceTimed each other, now have standing weekly Zoom calls to catch up. The Whyse team has a Teams video meeting every morning to go over what we plan to tackle that day. I can’t help but wonder if we will stay this connected once the dust settles, but I really hope that we do.
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