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Even before the pandemic, the United States was already facing a doctor shortage, from the early 2000s, which many have called “devastating”. Physicians faced long hours, regulatory compliance, high malpractice insurance premiums, mountains of paperwork that kept them in the office well after hours, and increasing medical school debt (which will not be covered by the new student loan forgiveness program).

Indeed, the Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated an already worrying problem. During the pandemic, doctors’ lives became even more strained as they dealt with sick and dying patients, lack of PPE and hospital beds, mixed communications about Covid and its spread, patient fear and their own anxieties of being infected.

Almost three years into the pandemic, we have proven vaccines to prevent and mitigate Covid in its various iterations, schools are returning to classrooms without masks, people are boarding cruise ships and living with the virus has become the new norm. However, following the destruction of Covid, doctors are exhausted, depressed and stressed. Some are considering a professional retraining. According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic and funded by the American Medical Association (AMA), one in five doctors plan to leave their medical practice by the end of 2023, and one in three will reduce their hours by the end of 2022.

The great medical resignation is upon us. The AMA recommends solutions that include better support for doctors as parents and guardians and make them feel more valued in their roles. But technology, which takes some of the minutiae out of a doctor’s day-to-day tasks, can also play an important role in reducing the heavy burden on doctors. Here’s how:

Related: Health care is boiling, but technology can save companies billions

Virtual meetings with pharmaceutical representatives

Anyone who’s been to a doctor’s office knows the ubiquitous sight of the pharmaceutical rep equipped with his rolling sample cart and patiently waiting a minute of the doctor’s time. They would wait for hours and barely have a minute. Then the pandemic hit. All major pharmaceutical companies have sent their representatives home to work remotely. Although reps can once again transport their sample carts to doctors’ offices, doctors and reps have found that virtual visits lead to more meaningful and fruitful conversations. And by meeting with representatives virtually, physicians can schedule times that work best for them and spend more time in virtual meetings than in-person meetings.

There are now communication platforms that allow physicians to communicate directly with pharmaceutical companies in a compliant manner. Communication can be as simple as a text message, which is convenient for a doctor who has a quick medication question and is between patients. They don’t need to spend time sitting down and logging in, and they can rest assured that their email is privileged and encrypted.

Global Date Healthcare reports that physicians overwhelmingly prefer video conferencing to in-person meetings. A 2021 survey showed that 75% of healthcare professionals prefer virtual meetings or a combination of virtual and in-person meetings. The pandemic wave of digital transformation has permanently changed the way the pharmaceutical industry does business.

Related: How Digital Tools Can Help Prevent Healthcare Provider Burnout

Telehealth and Quantum Computing

According to McKinsey Physician Survey 2021, 88% said they had used telehealth at some point during the pandemic. The survey also indicates that while there has been an upsurge in telehealth during the pandemic, it has subsided, with consumers using digital platforms 38% more than pre-pandemic figures. But as with the changes for pharmaceutical reps, the public’s comfort level with the use of telemedicine has increased. This is especially true for patients seeking mental health care. A 2022 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 36% of people seeking care for mental health and addiction disorders today rely on telehealth.

Without even realizing it, patients are rapidly becoming savvy consumers of digital medicine, which will continue to evolve as time goes on. quantum computing occupies a central place in the medical world. With lightning-fast capabilities, quantum computing will be able to perform “in silico” diagnostics, virtually performing full genetic analysis and a mock patient. Within a decade, it’s possible that quantum computing could create personalized medicines for patients, without ever needing to see the patient in person.

Related: Why Telemedicine is the Future of Healthcare

Hub Services

Back from the future, doctors still have to deal with prescribing specialty drugs in a complex, slow and expensive byzantine system. Specialty drugs are derived from living cells and treat complex chronic diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis (eg Keytruda for lung cancer).

Specialty drugs have been on the market since the 1990s, when there were only 30 drugs available. Today there are more than 500. IQVIA Institute predicts that by 2023, 65% of new pharmaceuticals will be specialty drugs.

Hub Services are a boon to the specialty drug boom. As the name suggests, hub services centralize required data – including patient history, medication specifications, compliance requirements and insurance information – in one place, making the administration of a complex process that is easier to manage.

QR codes, chatbots and AI

Digital technology leads to better outcomes for patients and healthcare providers. Doctors are not trained to master technology, but luckily technology has become smarter and more user-friendly. QR (“quick response”) codes, invented in 1994, were first used in marketing. Today, 30 years later, they are widely used in medical brochures, magazines, and even patient records. A Deloitte survey 2020 shows that patients are now more comfortable sharing their medical data, creating a path to digital trust in the use of QR codes.

Patients are also becoming more accustomed to conversing with AI-powered chatbots that use machine learning and have the ability to get smarter. Chatbots reduce physician workload by quickly and correctly answering questions that might interrupt a physician’s busy schedule. They also add a layer of privacy for sensitive questions about things like genital warts or colonoscopy prep that might embarrass a patient.

AI-based technologies continue to improve healthcare every day, from their use in administrative tasks to drug development to predictive analytics. These technologies will not replace doctors but will make doctors more efficient and lighten the heavy burdens they carry. And with the shocking and sharp decline in life expectancy in the United States., more than ever, we need our doctors to be at their best.

Related: The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Has Accelerated During the Pandemic. It’s here to stay.