The introduction of telemedicine has greatly revamped the medical industry, not only increasing its opportunities but also its challenges to a great extent. This new medium of examining patients, listening to their problems and making prescriptions remotely has allowed medical care facilities to improve a lot.
The concept of telemedicine was particularly found to be useful during the Covid-19 induced lockdown when people avoided visiting hospitals as a safety precaution, yet needed urgent medical care for one health problem or the other.
In fact, in many developing countries where healthcare facilities are limited, the advent of telemedicine has presented a ray of hope. Even within the United States, this concept is gaining popularity. Not only does it enhance convenience for those with limited mobility, but also provides an additional source of revenue for medical practitioners.
What has made telemedicine so reliable?
It is true that when it was initially introduced, masses were very apprehensive of adopting this phenomenon in their everyday lives as primary care was believed to be the most effective method of getting oneself treated.
However, with the advancement in technology and the availability of high- quality audio and video sharing devices, people’s trust has started to develop. Their fears of the wrong message being delivered to the medical practitioners over distanced communication which in turn, may result in inappropriate diagnosis have significantly reduced.
How has telemedicine impacted the industry?
telemedicine has proved to be beneficial to the medical industry because it has minimized the strain on healthcare specialists that was continuously increasing because of the shortage of medical staff and an ever-increasing number of patients. Apart from allowing experts to cater to more people in a limited time period, telemedicine has surprisingly resulted in enhanced medical care facilities in certain areas of specialization.
Some of them include:
Cardiac diseases are usually long-term ailments that take time to heal. Most of them persist over a substantial period and hence require on-going treatment and continuous medical attention. telemedicine has improved the quality-of-care patients suffering from heart diseases receive by limiting the number of visits they need to make to the physician, and by increasing the efficiency and timeliness of their follow-ups.
- Infectious Diseases
Infectious diseases are basically those that can be transferred from one individual to another. Examples include but are not limited to Influenza, Chickenpox and Pneumonia.
One of the most important requirements for treating infectious diseases is monitoring their symptoms continuously on regular intervals. Prescription medicines are then adjusted accordingly.
Keeping a track of, and observing symptoms has now been made easy by telemedicine and the patient does not have to travel all the way to the clinic just for reporting and follow-ups. This allows him/her ample time to rest without wasting energy unnecessarily.
This field of medicine is likely to be a particular favorite amongst teenagers and appearance-conscious people. It would not be wrong if we say a dermatologist is one of the doctors that most people would happily and willingly go to for a check-up. However, certain very serious and agonizing skin conditions also exist and it should be realized that a dermatologist`s job description is not just limited to beautification of the skin.
Whatever be one`s purpose to consult a dermatologist, most people often struggle to find a good one, just to hear that Dr. so-and-so in a nearby town is really good. Then, we keep waiting for that doctor to visit our town or try to find means to get to their location-just to let them have a quick glance at our skin and write a hurried prescription.
telemedicine allows us the opportunity to get skin care assessments done by experts in far-away areas. Routine check-ups can also be easily conducted and if the patient has skin conditions that need limited exposure to sunlight or water (rain), they can still keep their appointment intact irrespective of weather conditions.
Postpartum depression is a phase that many mothers go through after child birth. In fact, it would be wrong to call it a phase because it is a medically diagnosable depressive disorder which greatly affects the patient’s mood and their feelings towards themselves, their child and their surroundings. Usually coupled with extreme mood swings, anxiety, bouts of sadness and a disturbed sleeping cycle, this condition needs urgent medical care.
Along with Postpartum depression, many other health issues that amplify the struggles of new mothers are self-care (especially after cesarean deliveries) and adjusting to the new lifestyle.
For all of these above problems, counselling can easily be provided online to the affected women and their family members. In fact, gynecologists can even remain updated on their health conditions and monitor the pace of recovery.
Prior to telemedicine, all these emotional and physical requirements of the patient were either left unmet or required frequent visits to hospitals which were not always possible, given that their bodies needed rest and commuting with the baby may not have been easy.
Amongst all the specialties in the field of medicine, solutions that cater to mental health problems seem to have benefitted the most from telemedicine. One of the reasons for this may be that even today stereotypes prevail around this particular domain and some people are hesitant to openly talk about their struggles.
telemedicine not only allows the affected individuals to seek help while remaining confined within the boundaries of their home, but also lets them speak to counsellors or psychiatrists at times that suit them without having to worry about clinic hours. (Obviously, these have to be coordinated in advance with the health specialists).
Many psychologists even started offering free of charge online sessions to people who were not able to pay the fees during Covid-19 but felt anxious due to the sudden change in lifestyle.
In view of the above, we can conclude that telemedicine is now an essential extension of the physical medical care centers and one of the only ways to ensure that almost everyone has access to some form of healthcare. It is the need of the present day and therefore, should not be considered a short-lived phenomenon. In fact, the medical field should make efforts to strengthen it further.