Creating healthier futures for ill children

The life of telemedicine

COVID-19 has caused an enormous impact and stress on healthcare systems. At present, alternative health services such as telemedicine are becoming progressively vital tools for maintaining a patient’s continuity. As the social distancing and lessening exposure to the virus are a matter of importance, telemedicine will come in handy.

Originally, telemedicine was developed as a platform to deliver health care services to patients at remote locations by using information and communication technologies (ICT). During an epidemic, clinicians could do weekly real-time live check-ups with their patients or/and remotely monitor their clinical measurements (CDC). Although the pandemic brought serious complications with itself, it also gave us new opportunities. Moreover, the COVID-19 virus gave a rise to mobile health apps and digital health startups to expand and thrive in telemedicine.

Impact of telemedicine

During quarantine, there was a tremendous increase in the use of digital technology apps. People started using mobile health apps to track their symptoms and well-being. Furthermore, many digital health startups were utilised to support a person's mental health, provide valid relaxation approaches, and to give useful insights on how to cope with stress and anxiety. For example, in Estonia, all children aged 7-14 had free access to Triumf Health’s mobile health game that provided education about the current situation and psychological support to all the players.

Numbers

The number of telemedicine users has skyrocketed. Based on McKinsey & Company’s Survey the percentage of the US telehealth consumers has increased from 11 to 46 compared to 2019. Also, Palo Alto Medical foundation states that during the pandemic their daily video visits multiplied significantly such as in May it almost reached 2600 video visits a day. People have found alternatives to the usual doctor’s visits through telemedicine. Accordingly, Startup Health has reported in their Insight Report that in the first quarter of 2020, over $4.5B of funding has flowed into health innovations. This number states that not only telemedicine developers believe in the cruciality of their market but also the government and society.

Advantages and disadvantages of telemedicine

There are different sides to using telemedicine in today's world. For the user, safety and convenience are the key factors when it comes to using health services. Firstly, telemedicine is time effective and at low cost to patients. Users can access health services remotely and do not have to spend time or money on in-person visits. It is beneficial for both sides as electronic services reduce healthcare costs for patients, clinicians, and insurance companies . Also, telemedicine is useful when the procedures do not include any laboratory tests. In overall, telemedicine is helpful in preventive care as it can improve a patient's long-term health.

On the other hand, there are many doubts about using telemedicine. Firstly, the importance of protecting medical data is questionable. Hackers may access personal information and data without the patient’s permission. Secondly, many conditions need face-to-face visits and physical assessments which cannot be made via telemedicine. Moreover, there are many regulations and barriers regarding patient’s privacy that complicate the usage of telemedicine. Lastly, many patients cannot use telemedicine due to costly equipment and technology. Some software require professional assistance and many places cannot access that kind of service.

Conclusion

To sum up, telemedicine has proven to be a vital tool for health care during COVID-19. Specialists believe that by going forward, many people will remain to use telemedicine instead of a real face-to-face doctor’s visits. Although it has its advantages and disadvantages, this field will develop bigger and greater in the future. Telemedicine has demonstrated that it belongs to our healthcare systems and clinicians and patients benefit from it.

Author

Carita Kaare

Author

Carita Kaare

With her background in health sciences and physical activity, Carita brings expertise in inducing behavioral change and introduces this to our stakeholders.