Telemedicine: Need of the hour

When people are facing fear of contracting coronavirus infection, here is something which can be a sign of relief- telemedicine. Telemedicine includes clinical services provided via telecommunication technology. In other words you can get treated at your home- stay safe, stay home. As rightly said by ‘Thomas Fuller’:

He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest,

but he that prevents it is the safest physician

When the things are on the verge of breakdown, incredible economic catastrophe – it is the time to control the disaster. Lockdown is a right decision to prevent further transmission. Telemedicine is the need of hour to treat the patients at home, as there are other diseases than coronavirus that need to be treated on time as well. Telemedicine originally developed in USA in 1967. This technology was used by health professionals to reach remote patients living in rural areas. It had potential to reach urban population with healthcare shortages and to respond to medical emergencies by sharing medical consultation without delay. Telehealth and e-health can be synonymously used for telemedicine.

Telemedicine field is changing faster than ever before. So in this time of pandemic due to covid-19 , we can use this technology to reach every nook and corner of a nation. While social distancing is a priority, we can have 24/7 access to medical care through telemedicine technology. As in our state we had already started telephonic consultations thanks to Dr Sunanda Raina and Dr Samia Rashid, principals GMC Jammu and Srinagar for taking initiative by using telemedicine as a part of preventive and curative method in the time of pandemic crisis. Doctors all over the world are trying their best to keep the world safe from this lethal virus by providing consultations over phone. That is why telemedicine literally means ‘healing at a distance’ and signifies the use of communication and information technologies to improve patient outcome. And treating patients at home reducing risk of exposure to coronavirus unless there is a medical emergency which need hospitalization.  Telemedicine can be broken into three categories:

  • Store- and- forward telemedicine
  • Remote monitoring
  • Interactive telemedicine

Store and forward telemedicine involves acquiring medical data and transmitting this to a doctor. Remote monitoring also known as self monitoring or testing. Is primarily used for managing chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, asthma etc. Interactive telemedicine services provide real time interactions between patient and doctor which include phone conversations, online communications and home visits. Every technology has its benefits and bottlenecks, so has this technology.

BENEFITS

  • Better health outcome for patients
  • Expand patient outreach at the time of pandemics
  • Reduce hospital visits
  • Reduce unnecessary exposure to infections
  • Convenient and easily accessible
  • Immediate urgent care
  • Cost savings

BOTTLENECKS

  • High speed internet
  • Lack of public awareness
  • Lack of health infrastructure like HIS,RIS etc.
  • Telemedicine is effectively good tool for treating diseases like allergies, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, mental illness, eye related diseases, skin related diseases and many more. Let’s try to use this technology in the time of pandemic crisis for a better future.

Dr Saadat Nazir Shah, transfusion medicine GMC jammu