How Serious Is the Risk of Hospital-Acquired Infections?
Hospital-acquired infections –also referred to as Healthcare-associated infection –constitute a major public health problem in many world regions. Little known to many, these infections can become serious if not properly managed to result in more chronic infections requiring immediate medical attention. Generally, healthcare-acquired infections are silent infections affecting mostly in-patients within 48 hours of hospital admission. On average, the risk of contracting a hospital-acquired infection increases significantly as the duration of hospitalization increases.
In infected individuals, these infections complicate the original diagnosis and severely impair recovery as therapy proceeds. This means the patients might get worse with treatment as the disease prognosis becomes adversely affected. Once introduced into the community, these infections spread quickly and develop a community-wide resistance to commonly prescribed antimicrobials medications. This explains why many state-sponsored surveillance systems and infection tracking systems aim to reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired infections and multi-drug resistant infections.
In 2002, Public Health Rep. published a research report centered on estimating healthcare-associated infections and U.S hospitals’ deaths. The reports and stats published suggest that nearly 2 million patients develop a form of hospital-acquired infections while on admission. In essence, an estimated 98,000 patients die annually from these infections. In the United States, hospital-acquired infections are reportedly one of the top ten leading causes of death in patients on admission. Since healthcare-related infections are serious enough to cause death, it makes rational sense to try to curb its spread. Currently, many physicians and healthcare providers are exploiting technology in reducing the average length of hospital admissions. This method is particularly effective in the management of minor illnesses requiring no hospital admission.
Online Doctors, Telemedicine and Hospital-Acquired Infections
Globally, medical practice steadily evolves, creating room for the inclusion of innovative technological systems. Telemedicine –a practice involving the integration of medical practice with innovative digital systems solutions and communication technology –has been proposed as the right approach to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections. With telemedicine, online doctors can remotely deliver medical care, online issue prescriptions, and follow up patients’ response to therapy. Telemedicine is delivered by many online doctor services who are licensed and backed by the law to remotely clerk and institute an online treatment plan for patients.
With telemedicine, patients can schedule a relatively cheap appointment with an online doctor and discuss sensitive medical problems with assured confidentiality. Depending on the type of services rendered by selected online doctor services, the patient can decide to discuss sensitive health problems with an online doctor anonymously. Regardless of the service module selected by a patient, telemedicine helps deliver optimal care to a patient without the need to visit the doctors’ clinic. Since the risk of hospital-acquired infections increases proportionally with the duration of hospital stays, telemedicine expectedly reduces a patient’s exposure rate to these infections. In many cases, the patient is placed on drug therapy and an ambulatory care regimen that completely prevents a possible hospital visit.
Judging from available stats, the prospects of telemedicine appears to be appealing to both clinicians and patients. In the March 2020 edition of its journal publication, Neurology confirmed that about 93% of clinicians consider remote healthcare (Telemedicine) as an acceptable method of patient care, while about 60% describe it’s as very effective. There are also many review publications with conclusions suggesting that a great percentage of patients with access to remote healthcare are satisfied with these online doctor services.
Scheduling an Online Doctor Appointment –Merits and Challenges
Telemedicine directly integrate medicine with innovations in digital technology and communication technology. As such, the biggest challenges linked with securing remote access to medical care are a factor of the patients’ ability to secure a reliable internet connection. In regions where an online doctor service is not available, patients might find it hard to remotely consult an online doctor. With the exception of these two challenges, telemedicine offers numerous advantages for many patients.
Since technology transcends physical boundaries, remote access to an online doctor means that patients are saved the usual stress of a long drive to the clinic. In minor cases requiring no hospitalization, an online doctor can conduct a thorough clerking and make an accurate diagnosis. A patient can be placed on a self-monitored drug regimen plan, referred for a laboratory test, or referred to a specialist. Simply put, the prospect of telemedicine in patient care is limitless. In addition to providing a platform for a confidential patient-doctor discussion, telemedicine also helps the clinician to adequately track therapy progress.
Telemedicine in a Changing World
Recently, the landscape of medical practice is rapidly changing to accommodate unexpected health scenarios that directly affect patients care. Many reviews and studies have been published to directly address the need for a virtual patient care system that significantly reduces the risk of patient-doctor disease transmissions. With telemedicine, the patient is shielded from hospital-acquired diseases, and the doctor is minimally exposed to community-acquired infections. In Asia and a large part of Africa, communication technologies and digital health solutions are not yet optimally developed to capture the populace.
However, many health agencies are currently exploring telemedicine on a whole new level. In these regions, telemedicine helps the medical teams reach a large population at once and educate rural dwellers on predominant diseases, posing a great health risk. This is the preliminary stage of introducing digital healthcare plans to rural communities in these areas. In highly-populated countries of the world, medical teams and state-sponsored health agencies struggle with hospital personnel management and patient schedule plans. A reduction in the number of on-site doctor appointments will directly decongest the clinic and indirectly reduce the index of in-clinic disease transmission.