In the midst of unprecedented challenges, where the dramatic explosion of the coronavirus pandemic left every other disease untreated, as all the ERs, physicians, and other paramedics are busy in dealing with the COVID-19 patients, which are rising at the speed of light.
The concept of telemedicine has never been practiced before on a large scale, now becoming the valid option to serve those who are in need.
Telemedicine is about using information and communication technology (ICT) in an affordable manner to enable long-distance patient care and healthcare services. The concept of telemedicine is not new, but yes, it is more valid now than ever before.
In the wake of COVID-19, telemedicine facilitates safer access to care that is efficient, quick, and, most of all, remote for people all over the world.
While the developed world is using this technology, but for Pakistan, the concept of Telehealth is new.
The concept has emerged as a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19, easing the burden on traditional healthcare providers, encouraging patients with unrelated mild or moderate ailments, using their phone and/or online service/s.
It has now become a lifeline for a growing number of panicked callers especially those who are feeling symptoms of the virus but don’t want to seek in-person treatment or unable to access the healthcare sources, because of overloaded services.
Telehealth is for those…
Patients who want to avoid emergency departments
Because of the way Coronavirus is spreading – so quick and easy – keeping infected patients, those experiencing non-urgent symptoms of COVID-19 or any other medical condition, away from crowded emergency departments is very important, even local, state and federal government and healthcare authorities are saying the same thing, to contain the virus.
This is particularly important for elderly patients, especially those with compromised immune systems, as they are at a higher risk for COVID-19.
Patients who lack Awareness
There are many people who are still not grasped, especially due to misinformation and misguided home remedies surfacing on the internet, the right information about COVID-19. For them, having telehealth services is like a blessing.
Same is the case with other diseases.
Patients, who cannot travel/access healthcare facilities
Many of the country’s medical providers are keeping up with the breakneck pace of the growing Coronavirus, therefore, having telehealth is an extension of their primary care physician’s office.
They are also great for those who cannot get in to see their doctor for non-COVID symptoms at this point in time.
If the crisis evolves further, the dependence on telehealth and MD offices will increase and their relationship will be even more close to finding creative and safer ways to provide better care for patients.
Patients with rising needs for mental health care
As social distancing, lockdowns are implemented and the pandemic news is getting worse momentarily, making people experiencing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Telehealth facilities are very effective for such people as well, they can get medical advice anytime by connecting with doctors online.
Telemedicine is an unprecedented move that should have been practiced years ago that could have protected so many high-risk citizens from exposure to coronavirus. But it took a pandemic to bring the change.
This is an opportunity to mitigate the future damages, local healthcares need to design new telehealth and telemedicine options, as hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical areas become the hotspot for spreading a virus.
As the vast majority of medical issues can easily be resolved without hospitalization, even without a physical exam; this new medical regulation is far quicker, and can serve more people than the traditional practices. Even without a pandemic, emergency departments are normally run out of beds.
Talking about Pakistan in general, there are different e-health platforms sprang in the wake of COVID-19, known hospitals like Liaquat National, Aman Foundation, JPMA, Tabba, and a few others, have launched their telehealth facilities for those who cannot/doesn’t want to access just-in-time medical facilities.
Long road ahead
Our fight against COVID-19 has begun, and fortunately, we are seeing some positive signs as well. We are not certain what lies ahead, but one thing is for sure: nurses and doctors will keep answering the call and all the online queries.