Here Charlie Rapple, co-founder of the science communication platform Kudos, explores the healthcare journey away from COVID-19
Three years after COVID-19 became an international public health emergency, the virus is still wreaking havoc. According to the Office of National Statistics, by November 2022 an estimated 2.2 million people in the UK were living with self-diagnosed long-COVID. The global demand for a rapid response to the pandemic accelerated scientific research into prevention diagnosis and treatment. As we discover more about the side effects of this pandemic and prepare for more in the future, how can the public use the growing collection of research to take control over their healthcare journey?
During the pandemic, the public had access to more information about healthcare and global medical issues than ever before — as of October 2022, there are 11,800,000,000 search results for the term COVID. This might be in response to an increased public appetite for science so that the public could find answers about this new illness. While not all of these sources will be credible, it is clear that much more scientific research is readily available.
Global lockdowns meant that patients had to take more control over their healthcare. For the first time healthcare systems relied on self-reporting and self-testing to understand the spread of the disease. As we move on from the pandemic and learn to live with longer-term side effects of long-COVID, this attitude to personal healthcare could have a positive impact on patient results, giving a new direction for a public healthcare journey.
Research efforts into long-COVID symptoms, for example, demonstrate that patients can experience a range of short- and long-term symptoms, similar to other forms of chronic pain. In situations like this, researchers may have a different sense of what is important when compared to patients, who want to better understand their own symptoms. For example, researchers may focus on reducing one impactful symptom, like brain fog, but a patient may want to concentrate on a symptom that personally affects them, such as insomnia.
Involving patients in future research enables them to take control of their healthcare journey
Involving patients in future research enables them to take control of their healthcare journey and find the credible information that best helps them, leading to more effective symptom management.
As the number of patients experiencing long-COVID continues to increase, researchers and medical professionals must focus on patient-specific symptom management. Researcher and publishers, such as the International Association for the Study of Pain, are more regularly publishing content that showcases the overall benefits of patient-led treatments.
This increases the chances of health professionals reading the research and implementing it into their own practices. Using research like this to encourage patient-led approaches could help implement this newer form of medical intervention across the chronic illness treatment process and ensure patients can tailor their treatment plan.
Rapid vaccine development
One of the most notable scientific advancements caused by the COVID pandemic was the acceleration of vaccine development, which was vital to increasing immunity and reducing the risk of symptoms.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the fastest successful vaccine development occurred in the 1960s, where scientists took four years to develop the vaccine for mumps. The COVID vaccine was developed in about ten months, making rapid vaccine development more attainable and allowing people to get back to normal faster if future pandemics occur.
Shortening the time period of vaccine production and testing could also streamline the roll-out of future vaccines
Shortening the time period of vaccine production and testing could also streamline the roll-out of future vaccines, but they must be supported by increased public understanding to encourage more people to take it. Increasing uptake helps to boost immunity of communities, reducing the future impact of global outbreaks in the future.
Sharing resources for a successful healthcare journey
If we want to benefit from the scientific innovations developed during the pandemic in the future, we must bridge the gap between academia and the people who can benefit from this research, such as the public, healthcare teams and policymakers. While innovative research on all these mentioned topics exist, it can be difficult to access and understand papers hidden behind paywalls or technical, scientific language.
So, if we want the public to take control over their healthcare in the future, they need access to credible platforms that have research that is both simple to access and to understand, like Kudos’s COVID knowledge cooperative. By presenting important research findings in an easy and accurate way, patients will not be taken in by fake news or confused by overly-complicated language, helping them better understand how scientific innovations impact them as an individual.
To find easy to access and credible scientific research about COVID, visit the Kudos COVID platform today.
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