As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is increasing, many countries have found lockdown as a way to combat this pandemic. As hundreds and thousands of people remain at home following this emergency procedure to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, they also stop access to serious illness medical clinics or in- doctor’s consultation.
Furthermore, medical facilities are more focused on treating those suffering from coronavirus disease in their respective countries. In addition, given the contagiousness of the virus, healthcare centers have urged people not to visit care centers until the impact of this pandemic reduces or removes.
Moreover, medical facilities are an integral part of our lives, and so an option must be implemented to ensure that the outbreak of COVID-19 does not compromise with people’s health. Follow-ups, chronic or acute condition assessment, awareness-raising statistics, medical medication alerts, etc. are some of the resources that the telemedicine program can use. Follow-ups, chronic or acute condition assessment, awareness-raising information, medical medication alerts, etc. are some of the resources that can be provided for telemedicine.
Telemedicine is the method of delivering medical care where neither the medical nor the physicians are physically present with each other. The treatment can be provided here via audio/video calls or channels, enabling the patient/physicist to communicate with each other. Digitization, consumerization, and on-demand economy are some of the factors that have led to the idea of care being given remotely. Telemedicine services are on the rise today despite the coronavirus effect, and countries affected by COVID-19 are making the most of it.
Here’s an example of how China and the US are using telemedicine services realistically and efficiently.
China: Chinese telemedicine services, such as Ali Health, WeDoctor, JD Health, have rapidly introduced online coronavirus clinics to triage and treat patients with COVID-19 as the coronavirus outbreak occurred in China. JD Health carries out nearly 2 million online consultations every month, which is ten times more since the outbreak. With telehealth services, China has ensured that people receive much-needed medical assistance without traveling, which reduces the risk of exposure and spread.
The United States: U.S. telemedicine providers such as Teadoc, Buoy, Amwell, etc. have done their utmost to provide patients with COVID-19 outbreak medical consultation. Besides, President Trump has announced that Medicare Telehealth coverage will be extended to allow providers to visit Medicare beneficiaries remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The way countries impacted by COVID-19 exploit telemedicine facilities can be a complement to the already burdened healthcare system through remote treatment. They can be stopped from further dissemination of infection by isolating patients at home, whereas essential healthcare services such as surveillance, follow- consultation, prescription renewal, etc. can be achieved electronically.
There are three types of telemedicine facilities that can be used during COVID-19
Asynchronous Telemedicine: Often known as Store-and-Forward Telemedicine, it is a care management system that allows healthcare professionals to exchange patient information such as imaging scans, videos, test results, or other documents with doctors, radiologists, or experts remotely. Specialized systems are used for maintaining the confidentiality of the patient’s data. It is an easy way to communicate with care professionals and experts while being accessible at various geolocations. Thus, patients will be cared for by a medical team that is not geographically tied.
Remote Patient Monitoring: Also known as telemonitoring, it enables online recording of vital signs and health status of a patient by a health care professional. This type of monitoring can be done in patients with chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart-related problems. Doctors are able to monitor the vitalities of the patients periodically, and prescribe treatment, living habits accordingly.
Real-time Telemedicine: Virtual treatment is exemplified by real-time telemedicine across communication networks such as audio/video calls. This is one of the essential ways in which clinicians can solve the issue of unequal distribution. Virtual visits leverage technology to book appointments, manage appointments, link patient-doctor, allow long-term contact, etc.
The hope that the pandemic will pass rapidly is misplaced — the truth is it will take a decent year to pass. It is important to remember that other pandemics are going to be a part of our future. Now is the time to leverage the technology’s ability to provide quality and more efficient treatment. However, being physically apart is antithetical to the nature of medicine: the human touch, the willingness to interact in-person, and the familiarity that enables compassion and empathy. Sacrificing that is in the best interest of both patients and the health-care staff as of now, and it is practicable to some extent. Even our digital resources will keep us linked.