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COVID-19 Tech Updates: Life and Work Go Digital

Coronavirus pandemic is upending the old world.

As the new reality of lockdown sets in and people slowly learn to live with “quarantined life and social distancing”, we are waking up to a world where digital services such as video conferencing, remote workplace management tools, online education, digital health service, on-demand groceries, online communities, and other digital solutions play an increasingly important role. 

Telemedicine and digital healthcare services become critical for a growing number of people who can’t access healthcare amid coronavirus outbreak. Over the past two weeks as lockdown set in and hospitals and healthcare professionals wake up to a new reality amid the coronavirus outbreak, a situation made complex by the lack of protective gear for healthcare professionals and a lack of availability of test kits, hospitals and private chambers of doctors start to close doors on patients with symptoms of coronavirus. Hospitals decline to take in patients. Private chambers closed indefinitely. Many people fear visiting hospitals. 

This new reality has given rise to the digital health services. Companies like Olwel, who have stopped its home doctor service, have reported a rise in telemedicine service. Praava Health, Telenor Health and a host of other small digital health care services have seen an increase in demand. 

Similarly, on-demand test services like Thaylocare and online pharmacies such as Ousud.com and pharmacy.com.bd have seen a growing demand. 

This offers an excellent opportunity for these digital solutions. The rise in usage of these digital services is likely to impact the long-term prospect of these services. It can accelerate the faster adaptation of services like telemedicine and on-demand medicine and test services by a larger number of people. 

Remote work tools see a spike in use. Remote work and online communication have suddenly become a thing in the past few weeks. 

Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom have seen a spike in usage to such as an extent that many of the services that provide remote workplace management solutions and digital communication solutions are taking special measures to ensure smooth operating of their solutions. For example, Microsoft earlier reported a 500% jump in Teams meeting. 

Online education. Schools are shut. Coaching centers are shut. Nobody knows when things will return to normalcy and schools and other educational institutions will reopen and parents will feel safe to send their kids to school again. But parents remain wary about the education of their kids and a growing number of parents and students are opting for online education services. Similarly, many people are opting out for online courses to spend their time of social distancing more productively. 

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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