With the advance in technology, our healthcare sector also saw technological advances. One of them is Express Medicare or Telemedicine. It refers to the practise of caring for the patients remotely when the provider and patient aren’t present with each other. This has been around for quite sometime now.
However, it wasn’t used widely. People still considered personally consulting a doctor better than remote consultation. Everything changed when COVID-19 happened. Countries have gone under lockdown. People are advised to remotely consult doctors if they have Coronavirus symptoms rather than going to a hospital where the chances of them infecting others is higher. In this blog, we will discuss how Express Medicare/ Telemedicine is helping our healthcare system to tackle healthcare during the lockdown.
The current scenario
Most of the healthcare professionals are busy tackling COVID-19. And since most of the countries have taken measures to enforce social distancing by going under lockdown, it is difficult for patients to consult doctors face to face. There are a couple of aspects telemedicine needs to tackle. Few are mentioned below:
- How to tackle patients who want to consult doctors to check if they have Coronavirus based on their symptoms. If everyone with doubts is allowed to visit hospitals during this time, there are chances of uninfected people being infected.
- How to tackle patients who need mental health consultations or who need regular consultations for their health or who need consultations for other diseases (not urgent) they might just be coming across.
- How to tackle the buying of medicines. Earlier people used to go to pharmacies and show prescriptions post which they were given medicines.
Technology is fast and has tried to address the above issues and come up with solutions in short notice. Given below are ways in which technology has helped tackle the above mentioned problems:
- Hospitals and Governments are coming up with chatbots/ simple mobile applications which help people check if the symptoms they have need consultation with a doctor in person. Forms include questions regarding the symptoms of Coronavirus and depending on the severity of the answers, the patients are advised if they need in person consultation or not.
- Hospitals and individual practitioners are providing their patients with mobile applications/ websites where they can consult the doctors online via chat/audio or video calls. Since, people are under lockdown it is a difficult time for them to face it. Especially patients who have mental health issues. And proper online consultations help these patients cope with the stress of being under lockdown.
- There are two ways in which pharmacies are providing medicines to patients. One is pharmacies which only have options of serving patients in their locality via phone. Patients can call or message the requirement and the pharmacies can deliver the medicines. (Ofcourse, medicines that require prescription are provided only upon showing the prescription.) Another is pharmacies which already have online solutions. Patients can enter their requirements and also upload their prescription as a picture. The pharmacies can then deliver the same. While delivery, the pharmacies need to follow the WHO guidelines.
How the future looks like for Medicare
There is going to be a huge shift in the healthcare ecosystem. More Digital solutions will come up. Advantages of going digital is that healthcare becomes faster and convenient, less costly and secure. Hospitals can use Healthcare Automation Systems, Online Consultations, etc to help patients. They also need to take care that the wait time for patients would be less.
Coronavirus is a pandemic which nobody foresaw. However, the healthcare sector needs to be prepared for such circumstances in the future and therefore, having alternate solutions than just in person consultations is necessary. In a way, this pandemic has pushed our healthcare sector to experiment with providing online solutions which would have otherwise taken years to achieve. Pharmacies can also now provide online deliveries. As mentioned earlier, these solutions did exist from before. However, the usage was way less compared to now. And we are definitely going to see a change in how both healthcare providers and patients are going to behave in future.
Healthcare system changes gradually. Whereas, technology advances very quickly. If technology can go hand in hand with our healthcare system, then we can surely face such unforeseen challenges in a better way in the future. We are living in unprecedented times. We hope that technology companies come up with innovative solutions during this time to help the healthcare sector. While that is being done. Let’s make sure that we do our part and practise social distancing. Stay healthy. Stay safe.