Arguably one of the biggest and most important elements in human development is the constantly improving accessibility of healthcare services all around the world. The coronavirus pandemic proved how efficient and methodical the global healthcare community can become when it works together to bring vaccines to even the most remote of areas.
Another aspect of this development is the almost immediate prominence of telehealth and telemedicine services, or the provision of medical care and healthcare services from a distance using digital tools and platforms.
Alongside the massive digital transformation that swept across all industries during the pandemic, the healthcare industry saw the widespread adoption of telehealth to provide medical care to patients in spite of mobility restrictions and to minimize risks of infection.
The goal of telehealth is to offer patients a level of care that is equivalent to or higher than what they would get from an in-person appointment. Healthcare professionals collect vital data, update patient records, and provide patients guidance on how to manage their health complaints while providing telehealth services.
Nowadays, with the worst of the pandemic in the rear view, this welcome development has boosted healthcare accessibility and inclusivity in many countries including the Philippines.
In fact, the World Health Organization recognized the potential of telehealth in improving healthcare systems around the globe, saying that it can “strengthen health systems… through capacity-building of the health work force, enhancing competencies, facilitating early referrals and ensuring a continuum of care.”
“In addition, it generates health data that support the application of frontier technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI)-based clinical decision support systems, novel diagnostics, measurement of clinical outcomes, and adherence to evidence-based interventions such as rational use of antimicrobials,” the organization added.
There are many types of telehealth that are all designed to create a connection with the patient remotely wherever they may be at the time.
Healthcare professionals can employ a range of methods and tools to offer these virtual visits. The following is a list of some of the most popular techniques to provide telehealth to patients:
Real-time consultations through video calls
The real-time communication allowed by video conference platforms between healthcare professionals and patients in telemedicine is similar to that of an in-person session. The only actual difference between the patient’s location and the two-way communication method used —telephone, videoconferencing platform, or messaging service — is the patient’s ability to communicate discreetly.
These telehealth visits are often used for examinations, checkups, and reviews of medical histories as well as for various forms of therapy.
Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring enables medical professionals to keep tabs on patients’ progress throughout their treatment regimen without forcing them to come in for in-person consultations. This is a great way to provide care to patients who are unable to go to a health center for a physical appointment owing to the expense or difficulty of the trip, the time commitment required, or the nature of their medical condition.
Certain telehealth solutions enable the instantaneous distribution of patient data to the patient’s whole care team at the touch of a button, or the immediate addition of patient data to the electronic health record. Care team members can act swiftly should any problems with the patient occur because they have access to all the information they need.
Moreover, telehealth enables patients to check in with their healthcare practitioner quickly and conveniently and monitor their own health, which lessens the burden on caregivers.
Medical collaboration between healthcare professionals
Collaboration among physicians is made possible through telehealth technology, which allow healthcare providers to communicate more quickly and readily with one another and thereby give patients with higher-quality care.
For instance, a general practitioner can easily connect with a specialty expert from their workplace. In addition, doctors now have access to a huge number of specialists than they did in the past. Instant messaging is supported by many telemedicine communication systems, which eliminates the game of phone tag that frequently occurs while utilizing the telephone.
Store-and-forward is one of the key justifications for utilizing telehealth. This refers to the storing of medical information such as photographs, test results, vital signs, lab reports, and medical documents, all of which may readily be shared with the relevant persons.
Because of technology, it is not even needed for the sender and recipient to be available at the same time. A caregiver can gather the data, upload it and share it, and leave the data for review by a different provider whenever they are available without any information loss.
The exchange of X-rays, scans, and other pictures between a treatment team and outside consultants is sped up by telehealth systems as well. By this method, medical specialists may be quickly accessed from anywhere in the world and images can be reviewed at any time by a specialist radiologist connected to the telehealth system.
The locations do not have to be in the same city, state, or even country. Without having to travel, patients can choose to receive the best care possible from healthcare professionals.
Giving patients access to telehealth services has numerous advantages, and in most cases, everyone benefits. In-person consultations are still an option for patients who prefer them, but an increasing number of patients are choosing virtual treatment since it is more affordable and convenient without sacrificing the standard of care.
By offering healthcare services remotely, healthcare professionals can save money and significantly enhance the workflow in medical facilities. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran