I have no idea if this really works and how it works, but I’m keeping an open mind about this. Remembering what my physician professors taught us about the time we graduated in med school, everything we learn will now be obsolete. I’m talking about a minimum of 5 years where medical information often changes. Since, its been years that I’ve graduated from med school, that means everything I know is already out of date. True enough, Telemedicine was born.
Wikipedia defines Telemedicine as the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance. As a result of the 20th century development of telecommunication and information technologies. This approach permits communication between patient and medical staff eliminating distance barriers and save lives in critical care and emergency situations. In its early form, they’ve used telephone and radio. Nowadays, it is supplemented with video-telephony, advanced diagnostic methods distributed to client or server applications and home care telemedical devices. Some states in the United States of America is already utilizing Telemedicine.
Several types of Telemedicine are already available from general medicine to specialist care medicine. Among them are Telepharmacy, Telerehabilitation, Teleneuropyschology, and Telenursing. Currently, they are now working on advanced and experimental services like Telesurgery. Don’t ask me how because I don’t know either how they will pull this off.
Like any other forms of services, there are benefits and drawbacks. I have enumerated some of them for your convenience according to experts.
- Beneficial to isolated communities and remote areas.
- Reduce outpatient visits that significantly reduce overall cost of medical care especially those patients who require ambulance to move them to a clinic or hospital for follow-up check-ups.
- Provide comfort to some patients who are uncomfortable in a doctors office also known as white coat syndrome.
- Eliminate possible transmission of infectious diseases between patients and medical staff.
- Fast and easy collaboration of health care providers in multiple locations to share information and management.
- Facilitate medical education from experts in their fields to share best practices.
- High cost of telecommunication and data management equipment and technical training for medical personnel.
- Decrease human interaction and increase medical error due to virtual medical treatment.
- Difficulty in accurately assessing patients’ condition that can take up to 30 minutes compared to traditional consultation of 15 minutes minimum.
- Potentially poor quality of records transmitted like images, and progress report.
- Unclear legal regulation for telemedical practices from insurers and government programs.
- Inability to start treatment immediately.
A NOT SO NEW CONCEPT
I only know a little about Telemedicine and had my share of experience in providing health care assistance both online and offline. Offline medical assistance is a no-brainer. While online healthcare has already been introduced in this third world country. Following the footsteps of the first world countries.
There are a few Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) companies here in the Philippines that render a similar service. They would hire USRN licensed nurse with at least 3 years experience in ICU, ER and hospital special areas to provide email and phone support for selected patient members online. This also follows with Licensed Physicians. They can even provide medications and deliver them to your door steps. Everything is monitored from your vital signs to your over all well-being.
Surely, before you can avail this kind of assistance, appropriate devices and conditions must ensure. Not to mention, you must be financially capable to avail this service. This might be difficult in far flung areas especially here in the Philippines because of the limitation set by the government on internet speed, technology and expertise. On top of that, not all Filipinos are technologically literate. But if these obstacles are address, maybe Telemedicine would be a great tool in the health care industry. I hope it will not be corrupted by our ever-so growing corrupt leaders.
If you’re not tech savvy, then this might be an issue. A greater issue when you are in the medical field who is not tech savvy and follows old school methodology. Don’t get me wrong. Nothing against our great medical ancestors and senior colleagues, I highly respect them and admire their wisdom and practice.
Now, who really benefits from this? Well, honestly, I don’t know. Like any other inventions, it is how that invention is used to determine if it is good or bad. How about you decide?
Because for me, as a health care provider with vast experience in information and technology, it’s a great avenue for hybrid professionals like me to render our services to those who are in need in this millenial. However, nothing beats personal and “in-person” human interaction in health care. Sometimes, patients just need a caring hand, open mind, warm heart and genuine listener for them to get well to tap in that positive therapeutic energy within themselves.
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