Telehealth involves the use of technology to deliver health care information with regard to prevention, monitoring, and medical care. It is a sector that is growing fast especially due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, telemedicine is the use of technology to provide healing at a distance. It improves patient outcomes by increasing access to care and medical information.
The use of information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information is important for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases and injuries. Also, it has been used in research and evaluation and for continuing education of health care providers in the interest of health promotion of individuals as well as the community. The purpose of telemedicine is to provide clinical support and to overcome geographical barriers by connecting users who are not in the same physical location.
Benefits of Telehealth
There is a need to change how health care is delivered especially during these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions such as hypertension, heart problems, and diabetes are at a higher risk of developing the COVID-19 complications. According to current evidence, the coronavirus is spread mainly between people who are in close contact with each other and when a person inhales droplets containing the virus or when the droplets come into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The main intervention is to reduce exposure to ill persons by minimizing the surges on patients in the facilities. Health care systems need to adjust the way they triage, evaluate, and care for the patients using methods that prevent contact to reduce the transmission.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 as a pandemic, the significant factor is to slow down the transmission of the virus through social distancing achieved by reducing person-to-person contact. Nevertheless, people who have underlying conditions should still receive their daily care without the risk of exposure to other patients in the hospital who might have COVID-19. Thus, strict infection control measures should be put in place.
Unique innovative solutions are required to address both the critical needs of patients suffering from COVID-19 and other patients without COVID-19 but need health care services. The use of health care technologies such as telehealth provides a new and effective option that facilitates optimal service delivery while reducing the hazard of direct-person-to-person exposure.
Applications of telemedicine in healthcare
Furthermore, the use of telemedicine improves epidemiological research, interventions to control diseases, and manage clinical cases. Health care professionals can deliver health care services where distance is an important factor through information and communication technologies. Information and communication technologies are significant infrastructures in facilitating valid data exchange among relevant parties at different locations. The number of the aging population continues to increase tremendously, thus the increase in demand for health care services.
Incorporating technologies such as telehealth enables health care professionals to achieve effective solutions in the medical discipline. It promotes effective communication between physicians or medical staff and patients or their families through preliminary diagnosis, corresponding medical consultancy, and service delivery. For instance, the development of mobile apps or web applications with computerized features applicable to the physician and the patient can facilitate operational procedures. The patient can monitor blood pressure and send the readings to the physician for further consultation without the need to personally visit the physician.
Effectiveness of Telehealth
To promote infection control, telemedicine can be used to deliver medical services regardless of distance and time through technology. Moreover, telehealth provides better services at a lower cost since there are no travel costs and can be considered as an alternative in diagnosis and treatment. Patients can receive health care services at any location and time.
Health monitoring such as vital signs readings can be used to prevent adverse events, thus applicable in preventive medicine. Telehealth can be used to promote strategies in public health mitigation during pandemics by increasing social distancing. It offers a better option for health care professionals and patients for reducing potential infection transmission. Also, it helps to reduce the surge of patients in health care facilities hence prevent overcrowding.
There is a need to maintain continuum care even in the presence of pandemics while at the same time preventing negative consequences as a result of preventive, chronic, or routine care. Telehealth increases participation for the socially and medically vulnerable as well as those who cannot access their physicians.
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