It is difficult to imagine what form life will take in the coming months – let alone years. After months of disruption outnumbering order, and grief surpassing the run-of-the-mill contentment we would feel on any given day, there is something a little daunting about anticipating a return to a time that was, when compared with the trials of the pandemic, relatively simple, straightforward, and predictable for many of us.
Of course, we know not to expect overnight change. While, in the very early days of Covid-19, it may have been easy – natural, even – to envisage a clear and decisive end (and one that cam much sooner than the light we now see at the end of the tunnel), it has become exceedingly clear to us that this virus will linger and fight back in increasingly feeble ways.
We can, however, see the light growing brighter, and feel increasingly confident reconciling ourselves to the idea that this time a year from now, many aspects of life will have returned to ‘normal’ or, hopefully, a better state than they were ever in before the pandemic arose.
For the medical world, this prospect comes as a great relief. Brought to its knees – and, of course, forced to remain there for more than a year – its workers are now focussed on the notion of a better future, rather than one that simply evokes the comfiting memory of the past.
But, can it happen? Read more below.
Media coverage of Covid-19 was, as could only be expected, largely blinkered. In some ways, this was out of necessity but, in others, it was borne of a journalistic desire to linger on the very worst aspects of a tragedy. There was, of course, no need to ‘drum up’ further bad news – the stage was already bleak – but what the media neglected to bring to light was the remarkable staying power of the medical industry, and its ability to work ceaselessly toward improvement.
In the past twelve or so months, remarkable change has come in the form of practical tools and technologies, such as further developments to the revolutionary self-retaining surgical retractor from June Medical and pivotal new technologies in data curation and AI training.
For many of us – and particularly those working outside of the medical sphere – these can seem largely abstract and, at the moment, remote to the realities of life and our local healthcare systems. In actual fact, however, they are already making an impact on the present and the long-term prospects of medicine and should be seen as a promise for what the next years and decades hold.
A New Priority
While work on new tools and technologies has been remarkable, it is important to remember that not all change is visible. The medical world will, in all likelihood, practice an even greater level of caution – something which will be clear to all of us, like an elephant in a room, even years after Covid has receded into obscurity.
For the most part, and for a while at least, the patient-facing aspects of the medical world will feel largely the same, although the unfamiliarity of routine doctor appointments and check-ups will no doubt be jarring.
Still, the lessons we have all learnt throughout the past twelve months are not lessons that can be forgotten – and, in an industry that experienced Covid-19 in a way that workers in other industries cannot begin to imagine, change will be profound, long-lasting, and defined by a combined sense of hope and caution.