The Coronavirus pandemic today has made it more challenging for clients and health care providers to be able to reach each other for check-ups and other medical procedures. For some patients that require urgent care, not being able to visit their doctors can be detrimental to their health. Unfortunately, the lockdowns in various cities and towns may make consultations much more challenging, especially when visiting hospitals may hold the risk of acquiring COVID-19 or when the trip may be too exhausting for clients.
Thankfully, concepts like telemedicine exist today that can make it possible for both health workers and clients to be able to reach each other with only the internet and modern tools.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a concept that emerged in the 1970s that aims to utilize information and communications technology (ICT) to help provide care to clients and patients from a distance. As per the World Health Organization, telemedicine translates to “healing at a distance,” which uses various forms of remote medication, assistance, and support to patients that aren’t able to go to hospitals or health care facilities.
Telemedicine follows four basic principles, as per the WHO:
- Telemedicine aims to give clinical support to patients. The concept prioritizes the provision of proper health care to patients.
- Telemedicine seeks to overcome distance to provide said health care. When successful, medical professionals should be able to provide medical advice, medicine, and even potential treatment despite geographical limitations.
- Telemedicine makes use of various improvements in the field of ICT to help medical professionals reach their patients. These include calls, video conferencing, and other forms of long-distance communication.
- Telemedicine seeks to provide holistic outcomes for patients.
Most healthcare teams and caregiving agencies provide some form of telemedicine service for clients and other patients. The tools and technologies used for these telemedicine services differ from area to area, and may be modified to fit the needs of the patient or client in question.
Telemedicine via Video Conferencing
Telemedicine has helped medical professionals and clients get connected even from far away thanks to the rise of technologies such as the internet and remote communication. Methods such as video conferencing have made it possible for healthcare providers to reach their clients to provide adequate advice and guidance regarding their particular conditions.
Telemedicine via video conferencing has a wide range of benefits, including:
- Various tools today allow doctors and other health workers to conduct video conferencing with their clients to provide telemedicine. For instance, they can use tools such as Facebook Messenger and other free messaging services to provide accurate assessments and give more practical advice over the internet. They may also use software such as Zoom and Slack for a more professional setup. Hospitals and other facilities may have their preferred way of conducting telemedicine, which can provide both patients and health workers with quite a flexible array of services they can use to reach each other.
- Live conferencing lets healthcare workers see their clients and make more accurate assessments of their condition. Thanks to video conferencing, healthcare workers and providers can now check in on their clients from far away, which can help clients and patients to get more accurate advice from doctors and other healthcare workers without having to go to the clinic.
- Speaking live and with video can allow healthcare workers to determine the clients’ current emotional state accurately. Contrary to what we think of doctors, they don’t just focus on the medical welfare of their patients. Doctors and other health workers need to accurately assess their patients’ and clients’ emotional states to correctly deliver medical information in a way they can best understand. Health workers cannot accomplish this goal when done over the phone. As such, telemedicine makes this more possible.
Telemedicine in COVID-19
A new challenge for care providers today would be providing the right care for patients and clients in times of crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Clients of these healthcare teams may find it challenging to reach their respective healthcare professionals and providers, especially for their urgent needs.
Thankfully, given the potential of medicine today, they may find it more possible to bridge the gaps and challenges imposed by the COVID-19 lockdown. Healthcare teams today can tap into current improvements in communications technology to reach out to their clients. Here are some benefits health organizations can obtain when they implement a telemedicine strategy:
- Lockdowns in various towns and cities mean people may not be able to access their healthcare needs. This limitation can be harmful to patients and clients who need necessary check-ups and regular procedures from hospitals. Telemedicine will be able to connect clients from places in lockdown with the essential care provider.
- Hospitals will be able to cater to client needs without having to put their care workers at risk. Healthcare workers in locations under lockdown may be handling patients inside the hospital, and leaving these patients to accommodate clients outside the clinic may put them at risk. Telemedicine gives healthcare workers the ability to connect to clients without having to leave the hospital.
- Healthcare providers may be able to provide necessary advice and guidance to clients even from a distance. This benefit is essential, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic that patients are warier of symptoms that they may experience. Doctors and other medical professionals in hospitals may be able to provide advice to clients should they need them urgently.