How is Telemedicine Improving Healthcare Delivery?
The idea of receiving adequate healthcare without physically scheduling an appointment with a doctor’s physical appointment is not entirely strange to human medicine. Conventionally, patients are used to the idea of visiting a medical team onsite in hospitals. Consultations, lab tests, and therapy monitoring are all conducted in a physical appointment schedule. With this system, the basic challenges of primary healthcare delivery hamper optimal patient care. Patients are mandated to travel long distances and queue in the waiting line to see a medical professional in the hospitals. Apart from the common problem of overcrowding, patients become less productive and waste time in the doctor’s clinic.
Telemedicine is fast changing the narrative of healthcare delivery. Globally, there is a rising need to improve on the conventional systems of healthcare delivery. With telemedicine, the need is met with innovations in technology. This new system basically involves the integration of healthcare delivery with technology. In the comfort of their homes, patients can consult an online doctor; get an online prescription, order lab tests, and report feedbacks on therapy effectiveness. Innovations aid these services in digital healthcare solutions and advanced two-way communication technology.
In the United States and across many countries in Europe, telemedicine is fast becoming the main system of healthcare delivery for minor illnesses such as acne treatments and conditions that requires no hospitalization. In essence, this means patients subscribed to an online doctor service can consult a doctor and receive optimal patient care from a distance. To a large extent, this simple purpose has long been regarded as the right step to improving healthcare delivery. Although telemedicine is not designed to completely replace the face-to-face patient-doctor arrangement, it at least complements this method and increases the reach of human medicine.
Online Doctor Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Telehealth has, for a long term, been the flagship of innovative healthcare in many regions of the world. Until recently, the convenience in healthcare delivery this service offer was not expressly obvious to many. In December 2019 and in the early months of 2020, the WHO and many regional healthcare agencies instituted many plans to curtail the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. The COVID-19 outbreak became a public health emergency, with many thousands of confirmed death cases in the first infection cycle. As expected, people from different parts of the world were affected, and the outbreak finally led to a series of lockdown rules in many countries.
For the first time in many decades, the world was battling a global pandemic and needed innovative, safe means of delivering medical care to many patients. Travel restrictions and quarantine rules instituted by the governments prevent uninfected people with minor illnesses from visiting the clinics for a doctor’s appointment. In the preliminary stages of the viral infection, infected individuals experienced many symptoms, including dry cough, fever, and breathing difficulties. Elderly people and others with underlying health conditions were more susceptible to viral infection. At a point, the need to deliver supportive healthcare for newly infected people and care for susceptible patients and those with unrelated minor illnesses became a global burden.
Telemedicine received global recognition during the COVID-19 outbreak. With telemedicine, Online Doctor Services provided a feasible method to deliver routine medical care to patients trapped at home. Patients who are subscribed to these services can consult a doctor online, order online lab tests, and receive healthcare tips necessary to reduce the risk of infection or disease transmission. This method of healthcare delivery is patient-centered and protects healthcare professionals from contracting the deadly virus. To a large extent, using telemedicine was the most feasible method of communicating with patients who are hospitalized or in quarantine during the pandemic. Medical teams charged with patient care’s professional responsibility communicated with isolated patients using advanced communication technology systems.
Telemedicine and COVID-19 –Challenges and Merits
In the United States and many parts of the European Union, telemedicine has received a major boost in the face of the ravaging COVID-19 infections. Although the idea of remotely assessing healthcare in Africa and parts of Asia might seem entirely new, however, many online doctor services have expanded their reach to these regions. In essence, the major challenges of telemedicine are linked with the level of ease in accessing a reliable internet connection. These services are relatively cheaper than onsite doctor visits to hospitals. As such, man people can subscribe to a monthly healthcare plan on these networks.
Other widely reported challenges encountered in using online doctor services during the pandemic are linked with health insurance, payment systems, and accreditation. Countries with strict regulations on unmonitored digital communication systems might expect independent online doctor services and healthcare agencies operating telemedicine to comply with rigorous requirements. Many online doctor services also use many payment gateways that charge a token for service payments. Many health insurance providers also do not have an insurance policy that covers payment for online consultations, online prescriptions, and lab tests ordered online. These challenges discourage many patients and make others opt for an actual visit to the doctor’s clinic.
As the world battles the deadly virus with the hope of developing a vaccine –or possibly a cure, telemedicine has bridged the doctor-patient gap created by travel restrictions. In non-emergency situations, online doctors can provide subscribed patients with reliable medical tips. During the lockdown period, many online doctor services launched different psychotherapy plans for patients trapped at home. These services require no direct patient-doctor contact and, as expected, significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmissions.
In addition to protecting medical professionals from contracting the deadly virus from infected patients, telemedicine also significantly reduces the community risk of hospital-acquired infections. These infections, contracted within 48 hours of hospitalization, are fast becoming a major healthcare problem. As telemedicine reduces the length of hospital stays, patients at a lower risk of contracting a hospital-acquired infection.
In all its merits, telemedicine is fast becoming a basic need for the general population, replacing conventional hospital visits and delivering reliable healthcare to a large population with advanced technology and innovative communication systems.