Technology

6 Industries Fighting to Improve Access Through Technology

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of issues to light. One of those is accessibility to goods and services. Whether due to physical concerns, location, or lack of resources, not everyone has access to what they need to manage their lives. Thankfully, several different industries have put the effort into improving that accessibility. Here are six notable ones making the move toward greater accessibility.

1. Healthcare

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry fundamentally changed its operation to cater to safety protocols. Telehealth, curbside testing, and improved pharmacy pickup and delivery helped advance accessibility. The post-pandemic world has begun to reap the benefits. Many healthcare providers already offer remote appointments and prescriptions thanks to the recent development of telehealth services. Their evolution has been heavily bolstered by companies that hope to make the at-home experience as accessible as possible.

A large push over the past couple of years has been to allow patients virtual access to their medical records. The solution to this has been the patient portal — a hub for all of your data your provider has available. It is offered through many different healthcare systems and is designed to make maintaining your health and appointments more convenient. The benefits are plentiful, and available for almost everything from insurance plans to remote services such as online birth control.

2. Food: Delivery, Groceries, and Leftovers

Another field ramping up to increase convenience through tech services is the food industry. In the past you could get takeout meals delivered or otherwise needed to pick up your order in person. Grocery delivery was rarely an option. Now, whatever your food needs may be, there is most likely a service available that fulfills it. Many restaurants have apps that allow you to order in advance for delivery or pickup. Plus, shopping and delivery apps like Shipt or Instacart bring groceries to your door. You never even have to push a cart.

These services have revolutionized the way we consume — you can order from almost any sit-in restaurant or food store. Of course, with the advent of independent delivery services comes competition and a shrinking number of services available over time. As an alternative, restaurants often partner with separate services that allow them to deliver their food and keep their fees. There are also apps for people to purchase leftovers at closing each day, saving restaurants money and preventing food waste.

3. Transportation

It can be quite tedious to ride public transportation to and from work everyday. At certain points in your journey you might have to use change and at others you’ll need a transport card. Some days you might even forget your transport card and have to pay a fee to receive a new one. Having witnessed these issues, cities like New York have been working to modernize public transportation to make commuting more convenient.

Some cities have begun implementing methods such as contactless payment for public transportation and tolls to streamline the traveler experience. Chicago has implemented a similar system with Ventra, which allows users to refill their transport cards from their phone. Even in cities outside of the US such as London, citizens can use one card for various methods of transportation. These developments make traveling throughout major cities infinitely easier and more inviting.

4. Education

To the great dismay of children everywhere, the education system has begun instituting remote learning for unplanned days off. No longer is a snow day at home a day without responsibilities. Through remote meeting programs, organization software, and dedicated assignment portals, it is easier than ever to keep kids in school. This is another change catalyzed by the social distancing requirements necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All jokes aside, these remote learning opportunities most importantly bring the classroom to children whose disabilities restrict their activity. Daily experiential interaction markedly improves a child’s well being along with education they now have at their fingertips. These opportunities also allow more flexible routines for parents and teenagers that work. Even as schools begin to reopen, many parents are opting for remote learning as a viable alternative to an in-person experience.

5. Customer Service

Surely we all know the pain of waiting on hold to speak to a customer service representative. We always receive the same message about increased call volume and are left to dawdle for what feels like hours. Mercifully, companies do recognize this issue, and for a while have been exploring other options to serve their customers conveniently. The most advantageous solution has come in the form of the virtual customer service chat.

Instead of being caught on hold, there is a good chance there are support chat options on the company’s website. Many of these platforms offer an alternative to calling by allowing you to message a representative for assistance. If an AI representative is offered and doesn’t help, you’ll be transferred to a human. This is a dependable alternative to customer service queues because it frees the line for customers with more pressing issues.

6. Meetings

Believe it or not, the sector focused on virtual communications is indeed called the meetings industry. If you’ve worked remotely, you’ve interacted using remote video platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Pre-pandemic, most meetings were held live in the office or in a large, populated event space. As the requirement for virtual meeting spaces skyrocketed, countless viable solutions arose to fill that need.

Some of these solutions were around long before the pandemic and have only recently seen any sort of success. Still, with that success has come a heightened focus on such platforms, paving the way for increased accessibility. Countless competitors make market dominance a pipe dream, so companies have instead opted to integrate their services together. Several platforms like Zoom and Slack have implemented cross-compatibility to allow users to access one through the other.

With the freedom that all of these services provide, daily life has improved significantly for those who use them. Resources that were once difficult to find are now available to more people, no matter their physical location or ability.

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