The COVID19 has been a huge strain to healthcare systems and economies around the world. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on families who have lost their loved ones and has meant continuous pressure and stress for key workers, particularly frontline workers in health and care. However, there have been some interesting silver linings, particularly in the field of healthtech. We have seen the adoption and spread of telehealth platforms at an unprecedented speed. We have seen huge feats in the NHS capacity to adapt and create partnerships in order to respond to the crisis. The healthcare system has done an incredible job at trying to respond with means it had at its disposal. Hospitals were built in a record amount of time to deal with the potential lack of critical care beds. The academic community has been trying to produce research at an unprecedented speed to help with our understanding of the disease. There have definitely been some great feats that we might want to keep moving forward as well as some lessons that can be learnt from this new pandemic. To this effect we decided to ask some people about their corona ‘keeps’ aka “What’s the one thing that COVID-19 has started and that you'd like to keep?”
Sheena Visram, a little obsessed with robotic floor cleaners.
Researching future technologies (London, UK)
“It would be fantastic to bottle up the imagination, invention and openness to collaborate that are enabling the development of pandemic related solutions at pace. Similarly, I'd love to see the overwhelming gratitude towards healthcare professionals and carers become a new norm.”
Maddalena Salvi, discovered new passions during this quarantine
such as gardening and slacklining.
Pharmacist (Brescia, Italy)
“From a personal point of view I can see multiple positive aspects. Above all, the reorganisation of working hours over 6 days instead of 5 in order to reduce physical contacts. Working fewer hours a day allows some free time that I didn't have before. This has consequently led to beneficial effects such as reducing stress (despite the situation), increasing time for my passions, learning to let go of anxiety about having to fill time at all costs, and therefore learning to stop. In the healthtech sector, this situation forces to build a closer collaboration between doctors and pharmacists, showing great advantages on both sides.”
Estelle Dourin, has “her feet on the ground and head in the stars”.
Intensive care nurse (Paris, France)
“To me, the one thing that COVID-19 put in place and would be worth keeping in the future is better communication and information sharing. Our healthcare team created groups in which everyone shared information about coronavirus and knowledge about treatments for patients. Being an unprecedented situation, the information was constantly being updated which means our knowledge also had to be. Greater team cohesion is also something that emerged during this difficult period. I’ve seen this with all medical professions as the potentially pre-existing tensions or rivalries between different professions have been left aside.
Communication with the family of patients in hospitals has also been quite a step change. We have been helping people make video calls, share voice messages and photos with their families so that they can stay in touch and help them in their recovery.
Overall, this situation has been very trying but also positive. It allowed me to bring out my potential and my energy, which I had left aside for some time. I learned how to love my job again.”
Julia Manning, who has husband, twin’s wife, AND other brother’s wife all born on 7th of August – keeps birthdays simple
PhD researcher at UCL on the influence of context on use of digital health technology
Founding Director 2020Health think tank (London, UK)
“So, you asked what Covid19 had started? Well, it took me several weeks of Lockdown to realise that I really missed my commute to work. Not the concept of the commute, but the fact I had embedded enjoyable exercise into my journey. By walking from my house through residential streets to a bus stop a mile away, then getting off the bus in order to walk another half mile through two or three London squares or take in the architecture of the British Museum I was assured of arriving at the UCL Interaction Centre full of beans.
The thought of exercising at the start of the day has never appealed; it felt like another thing to fit in. But as Lockdown lingered, I realised that I had to get that energising morning boost. You would have thought that having two dogs I would have already realised this. But, with a household of workers who used to leave the home early each weekday, it took me a while to work out that our dog-walker (whose help is invaluable and who adores our dogs) could come in the afternoon and I could do the morning shift. What I will never forget is early on Easter Day, walking Hugo in the beautiful sunshine down the middle of the A202 to Camberwell Green and then up Denmark Hill to Ruskin Park. No cars. No pollution. Few people. Glorious! (No I didn't forget our Westie Skye, but at 15 years she only does the short hops.)
And newish healthtech essential? Mentimeter. I had used it before, but since conducting online workshops, I wouldn’t be without it. It is a bright, visually fun, anonymous crowd-sourcing tool that people really enjoy using.”
Dr. Anthony Mangiacotti,
once got lost in Thailand jungle where he got attacked by a swarm of wasps!
Researcher in music psychology and neurocognitive rehab
(Padua University, Italy & Middlesex, London UK)
“Personally, it ‘slowed down’ life, giving me the opportunity to focus more on my personal health (sport mostly) and in general, I think one positive aspect that contributes to this feeling of “slowing down" was seeing shops closed on Sundays (here in Italy). I think this made us realise it is totally possible to live in a culture where things don't have to be available 24 hours a day. I also hope the remote working will hold on in the future. It brought many advantages and helped people with families to arrange their schedules better.”
Dr. Francesca Caselotto, lovely and cute,
but also has an obsession for sharks!
Junior Doctor in a COVID-19 hospital @ Landesklinikum Neunkirchen (Austria, Wien)
“Professionally, I’ve understood even more the need to not only focus on curing the disease, but the individual patient. I’ve discovered the importance of eyes, particularly when the smile is hidden behind a mask.
With much more time on my hands, I’ve appreciated the value of time, time spent with my family — close and far, making sure it’s not just time ‘spent’ but time ‘lived’ at its full potential. I’d love to keep all this in my heart at the end of the pandemic.”
Niels van Berkel, his instrument of choice since the age of four is the triangle!
Assistant Professor at Aalborg University (DK)
“Following the abrupt move to 'working from home', our team has increased the number of meetings to ensure alignment on tasks, as well as to support each other in the new technical questions and demands that we face in relation to teaching, supervision, and research. In addition to these 'practical' matters, our sense of solidarity increased and allowed us to become more flexible towards both students and each other. I hope for this sense of togetherness and flexibility to remain throughout and following the current situation in a sustained effort to support each other in times of personal difficulties”
From a professional perspective, the increased use of technologies, the speed of innovation and the intense collaboration between medical professionals are the things that our interviewees would like to see being maintained in the future. In day to day life, the additional free time has brought many benefits, such as new discovered passions, but also an understanding of time value and management, which is probably the one thing that they would keep moving forward.
Jade Eyraud and Maura Bellio
Jade works in Marketing for Clinique in London. She is interested in mental health and positive psychology. You can occasionally catch her running.
Maura is a final year PhD student at UCL, working on user-centred design and human-computer interaction for digital health. She has a background in Cognitive Neuroscience, a curiosity for explainable AI, and in her spare time she runs with an athletic club in London.
@EyraudJade & @maura_db