Last Updated on March 13, 2020 at 6:24 PM
Health In Focus
Highlights:
  • The current global crisis with COVID-19 infection provides telehealth the ideal opportunity to show the way forward in tackling the crisis
  • Telehealth can monitor new outbreaks and caution local practitioners about the required precautions that need to be taken
  • Telehealth can also monitor the people with milder symptoms and the ones who are quarantined

The global standstill due to the COVID-19 outbreak is nothing short of a crisis. In a very short time, the virus has spread to many countries, and its effects have been far-reaching, as it has played havoc with human health and sentiments. Anyone with flu-like symptoms have been advised to self-quarantine for up to two weeks. At the same time, the healthcare providers themselves are not able to mitigate the risks of infections, and if they come in contact with infected cases, they themselves need to self-quarantine. Most countries have a shortage of healthcare providers, and if they themselves need to be quarantined, it would lead to a disastrous situation.
Telehealth Well Positioned to Tackle and Contain COVID-19 Outbreak

Innovative solutions are required to overcome such a crisis, and many countries are waking up and have realized that telehealth could be part of the solution. Telehealth can monitor, diagnose, and manage the crisis arising from COVID-19 infections. The Australian Morrison Government is the first to announce that it will use telehealth to address the health sector response to COVID-19. The Australian Medical Association has welcomed this move and has been keen to push telehealth since the bushfire crisis in Australia and is of the opinion that telehealth is being underutilized.


How will Telehealth be Used for the COVID-19 Crisis?

Currently, most countries are trying to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These containment procedures require mass media education and, at the same time, monitoring of the spread. It also requires providing confidence to the general public by being able to provide easy access to healthcare and providing consultations to those who suffer from any flu-like symptoms. Telehealth can play a key role in implementing all these measures -
  • People who are relatively well with minor symptoms and infected with COVID-19 do not require to attend the clinic and can be managed at home with simple measures. This would help keep the spread of the virus in the community down to an absolute minimum.
  • People who are concerned can be monitored, and access care through the phone or over the video channel, without having to venture out into the community.
  • Respiratory clinics can be set up in remote locations that can be monitored by telehealth, even by trained paramedical staff. This will enable early identification of patients who require isolation and hospitalization.
  • Health and government sites should continually address measures such as hand washing and coughing etiquette. At the same time, consistent messages should be put out on social media, in mainstream TV, in the printed press, at bus stops, in community clinics, and in other places where people will frequent and congregate.
  • Monitoring outbreaks using data analytics of search engines.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth uses technology for providing access to healthcare through the use of video conferencing, wireless communication, remote data collection, and image streaming to reach out to patients at any location. So far, it has been used effectively for the delivery of care to remote locations.

This model of healthcare delivery overcomes the potential healthcare barriers such as distance, lack of transportation, and a lack of providers. It has been used effectively in chronic disease management for patient follow-up and for the delivery of mental healthcare.

Telehealth has Arrived

Our society is heavily dependent on technology today. COVID-19 has forced many people to stay at home. However, not knowing how long this crisis is likely to last - offices, colleges and schools have not stopped functioning. But this is with a difference; technology has allowed everyone to be functional without stepping out of their homes.

The time for 'Telehealth' has arrived, and this is an opportune moment for it to take center stage in the delivery of healthcare and tackle this global crisis effectively.

Reference:
  1. COVID-19 package welcome but much more to do - (https://ama.com.au/media/covid-19-package-welcome-much-more-do)


Source: Medindia

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