The digital transformation efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated tenfold during this period. The primary intent behind progress and transformation has been to rapidly increase the relevance and reach of public health services focused on saving lives and livelihoods.
Telemedicine is a form of health care that is delivered through digital platforms, and virtual means are showing its importance now more than ever in terms of a stretched and unavailable healthcare system.
This form of healthcare and medicine is bound to digitize the healthcare system and revolutionize medicine. This form of medicine will undoubtedly play a significant role post-COVID-19 as well. Telemedicine and other related e-health facilities allow and enable care from a distance through electronic or virtual information systems.
This global pandemic is establishing telemedicine in the health care delivery system worldwide. For mild-to-moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and any illness, telehealth services could represent a better and efficient way to receive initial care and perform primary diagnosis.
Telemedicine also plays a significant role in screening for COVID-19 symptoms while delivering routine medical requirements and follow-up treatment and care. The large-scale adoption of telemedicine, especially in public health care delivery, is still not visible in low or middle-income countries. Adoption by patients and healthcare professionals is mainly limited, and their concerns have to be addressed to ensure its utilization in the future of the care continuum.
Two of the critical clinical domains that are encompassed by telemedicine are cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, along with all of their chronic complications. Retinopathy, the most widespread diabetes complication, requires a fundus oculus examination by an eye-care specialist. The use of telemedicine in this domain could emerge to be relatively successful.
Telemedicine in COVID-19:
During this horrific global pandemic, telehealth is rolling out as a practical, reasonable, and sustainable solution for prevention, precaution, and treatment to decrease the spread of COVID-19.
Telehealth is decreasing the knowledge gap between people, physicians, as well as health systems. Thus, allowing everyone, and especially symptomatic patients, to stay at home while communicating with physicians through virtual platforms. In this way, they are also helping to decrease the spread of the virus to mass populations as well as the medical staff on the frontlines. Most importantly, hospitals are rapidly adopting telehealth to treat quarantined patients infected with the virus.
Reducing the risk of spreading this deadly disease:
The widespread use of telehealth technology is certainly a twenty-first-century approach that is both patient-centered and protects patients, physicians, and others. Telehealth involves healthcare professionals’ delivery of healthcare services, mainly now during the pandemic when distance is a crucial factor, through using information and communication technologies (ICT) for interchanging of valid and correct information.
Telehealth and telemedicine services are rendered using real-time and store-and-forward methods. With the exponential evolution and downsizing of portable electronics, many families have at least one digital device, mainly including smartphones and webcams, that provides easy communication between healthcare providers and patients.
Video conferencing and other similar television systems are also used to provide health care programs for patients hospitalized or are even in quarantine to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and others.
Physicians and other practitioners who are in quarantine could employ the services that telemedicine offers to take care of their patients remotely—also, covering several sites where a tel physician could address some of the issues of the workforce.
There are several benefits in using the technology of telehealth, especially in non-emergency or routine care, along with other cases where services do not need direct patient-provider interaction, including providing psychological services.
Remote care also helps in minimizing the use of resources in health centers while improving access to care and minimizing the risk of direct transmission of the deadly and infectious virus from person to person.
In addition to being beneficial in allowing the safekeeping of people, including the general public, health workers, and patients, another major advantage is providing access to caregivers on a larger scale. Thus, this technology is not just attractive and simpler but is also much more effective and affordable.
Patients are rather eager to use telehealth, but hindrances still occur. The barriers to implementing the complete use of this technology are also hugely dependent on accreditation, payments systems, as well as insurance. Also, some physicians are concerned about other technical and clinical quality, safety, privacy, and accountability concerns.
The merits of telemedicine:
The benefits of telemedicine are rather well known. However, here are a bunch of benefits of telemedicine:
Ensuring telemedicine is more sustainable or lasting in the post-COVID era, we might require fewer regulations and better payment systems. As it presently exists, telehealth services have poor reimbursement connectivity to telemedicine and other virtual platforms.
In the past, only a few numbers of patients were eligible for telehealth coverage as there was no need for hospitals and other care facilities to invest in the technology required to improve the process.
In order to combat the deficiencies in healthcare, it must be made available to all patients. Telehealth is a convenient option that has helped to allow the lower socioeconomic communities along with rural areas to receive the healthcare they need, protected physicians, and minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
With a focus on access and improving connectivity, healthcare providers may develop a sustainable healthcare model that shall increase clinical efficiency and promote patient-centered healthcare in a post-pandemic world.