There is increasing public urgency and panic over the supersonic spread of the COVID-19 virus, which was first reported in Wuhan province of China in late 2019. The virus set off a global pandemic with many reported cases of infections and deaths. To address the soaring number of infections, many healthcare practitioners have begun to consider telemedicine as instrumental in the fight against this menace.
Telemedicine has facilitated remote clinical trials and has a wider reach than conventional treatment approaches. Telemedicine also makes the trial process less strenuous for the patient. Here is a look at some of the reasons many health practitioners are turning to telemedicine to address the COVID-19 menace.
What is Telehealth?
For many people, Telehealth is an alternative of in-person visitation to the clinic. This means the use of video conferencing to consult your doctor. In developed countries like the U.S., hospitals provide virtual sessions to their patients. Telehealth has also become popular in Asia and particularly China and Indonesia, with the use of Ping-An Good Doctor and Halodoc, respectively.
How Countries Have Turned to Tele-Health in the Face of The COVID Menace?
Many governments have turned to Telehealth to address the many challenges that have emerged in the wake of the COVID 19 virus. The U.S. was one of the first countries to adopt Telehealth. This was after the former president, Barack Obama’s initiative, Obamacare, penalized hospitals if a patient was readmitted within a period of 30 days from being discharged. This prompted hospitals to use remote monitoring to reduce their readmissions.
The U.S. administration’s first public sign of its open embracement of the technology during the COVID crisis was when in March, they created a policy allowing patients to access their Medicare funding after receiving care through Telehealth. The U.S. has also actively adopted the use of tele-ICU with a huge number of American ICU beds under telemonitoring. The use of Telehealth in America is one of the reasons that the hospitals there have not been overwhelmed despite having a high volume of deaths and infections.
China has also risen to the occasion with its Ping An Healthcare and Technology platform. The platform recorded a ten times increase in the number of new users every day between January and February compared to earlier times. The platform provides free online consultations to any person concerned about contracting the virus. The chairman of the company, Wang Tao, says that online medical consultation is a convenient and efficient way to prevent patients from getting this infectious disease. Tao says that the platform allows doctors to refer people suspected to have contracted the disease to the hospital.
Indonesia has also followed suit with its Halodoc platform. When the first two cases of COVID 19 were reported in Indonesia, thousands rushed to the healthcare platform in a countrywide panic. At first, the company was overwhelmed by the surge of users versus its limited number of doctors, but it slowly adjusted to the challenge. Since the first two cases were reported in the country, 7.2 million users have used Halodoc’s platform for COVID-19 related queries.
Benefits of Telehealth
Firstly, Telehealth makes hospital staff more effective. In hospitals, nurses often check their patients’ vital signs. Automating these checks frees nurses for other pressing tasks. Patients measure their vital signs like blood pressure and transmit the results to the telehealth nurse. Nurses and clinicians can now provide support and monitor a high number of patients simultaneously.
Telehealth also improves clinical trials. Telemedicine solutions involve protocols that enable nurses to detect deteriorations early. Studies have shown that ICU patients who go through telemonitoring have a low chance of dying and are discharged home quickly.
Telehealth also reduces medical expenses by making it accessible and delivering better outcomes. In Australia, it was found that since Telehealth was adopted in 2016, there was a significant decrease in hospitalizations resulting from chronic diseases. In Singapore, a related study established a substantial decline in the cost of care owing to a Telehealth heart failure program.
With the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, many countries worldwide have experienced pressure in their medical facilities leading to the adoption of Telehealth. This technology does not only reduce pressure on hospital staff, but it also improves the efficiency and productiveness of nurses. Furthermore, the adoption of Telehealth has helped curb the spread of the disease and is a step in the right direction toward the fight against the COVID menace.