Health + Tech | Using technology to deal with stigma, loneliness

COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we do things in almost every field, including health care.

Humans are social creatures, so it is understandable that they may find it difficult to isolate themselves. Since the onset of the epidemic, one of the challenges for families has been the inability to visit loved ones in the hospital. If a person is ill with little or no family support, this can be a very lonely trip, which can have a negative impact on their recovery. There were reports of increased mental health issues during the lockout.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States views loneliness and social exclusion as a threat to public health, which in particular “exposes adults to dementia and other serious health problems.” The agency described loneliness as “a feeling of loneliness regardless of social status” and social isolation as “lack of social cohesion”.

Some of the health problems associated with loneliness and social isolation include premature death, dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety and suicide, according to the CDC. In the wider community, there are many organizations that allow people to experience social stigma and reduce their chances of loneliness and social isolation. However, when visits are limited, more creative methods are needed to combat these issues when one has to be hospitalized.

Most patients in the hospital are waiting for a visit when their family and friends can see them. At present, our hospitals are near or fully able to accommodate the number of patients that Covid-19 can accommodate. Given how contagious it is, it should create limited contact to reduce the chances of it spreading.

This is where technology can help. There are many ways in which hospitalization technology can be used to reduce the feeling of loneliness and social stigma in adults.

Robotics have long been used in health care to help with certain tasks. One of the most popular robotics used during the outbreak was to control infection. However, to combat loneliness and social exclusion, robots have served as a companion for humans. Introduction Robotics, a beginner in Israel, describes the robot Eli, using artificial intelligence (AI) as a “compassionate friend who can communicate with older users.”

Another Japanese company, AIST, has developed a iodine-like baby stamp device called PARO Therapeutic Robot. The robot can know the location of users and recognize sounds and words. The company has been in use in Japan and throughout Europe since 2003 and has successfully reduced patient anxiety and improved socialization, relaxation and motivation and more.

Using virtual reality tools is another way for family and friends to connect with loved ones in the hospital. Virtual reality provides a visual representation of the process or event, allowing the user to be immersed in the real world. Virtual reality market is huge and growing. In a report entitled Fortune Business Insights Virtual reality in the healthcare market“The global virtual reality market in the healthcare market. It stands at $ 1.56 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach US $ 30.4 billion by 2026, an annual growth rate of 42.4 percent.

In terms of reducing social stigma and loneliness, virtual reality allows families to connect with each other using multiple devices. An app called Alcove – dubbed the “first family-based virtual reality app” – is a virtual home that allows families to live together in a virtual environment. This can be tailored to their needs.

Another simple and easy-to-use method is to install an Internet-connected tablet for each patient’s bed so that patients can easily access social media, make video calls with family and friends, and have fun while on the go. You can also use it for services at the hospital. This, along with other similar technologies, plays an important role in combating loneliness and social exclusion and therefore improving the overall health of patients.

Doug Halsal is the Chairman and CEO of Advanced Integrated Systems. Send feedback to

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