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Telehealth Is Transforming Healthcare In Developing Nations: Know How

COVID-19 lockdown triggered a start-up boom in Digital Healthcare

Patients, especially in developing nations, can get the correct level of care for a lot less money by adopting telehealth.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : October 22, 2021 10:35 AM IST

Technology has been employed throughout history to solve the greatest challenges of society. It has undeniably revolutionized the health sector and enhanced the quality of medical care dramatically. The telegraphs were utilized during the American Civil War for reporting casualty information, requesting medical supplies, and coordinating transportation and treatment of the wounded troops. However, telegraphs were unreliable and cumbersome. The discovery of electricity and the emergence of high-speed telecommunication technologies have brought about major changes in healthcare. Twentieth-century patients and doctors used two-way radios and telephones to communicate over distances. Telehealth has evolved into a comprehensive terminology that encompasses preventative care, diagnosis, disease management, and patient education when using distance telecommunications to give medical treatment.

An evolving scenario

Hub and spoke networks built out of tertiary care or academic medical centres are the backbone of telehealth. Today, the picture is very different - the majority of the time, the patients are unaware that telehealth is being employed. Money, legislation, hype, adoption, technology, evidence, and success are the "seven deadly hurdles" to telehealth. Some of them are common to healthcare in general, while others are new types of barriers that come into play with the evolving picture of telehealth infrastructure.

A cost-effective option

Patients, especially in developing nations, can get the correct level of care for a lot less money by adopting telehealth. Parents may find it difficult to determine if a screaming child needs emergency medical assistance or can wait until the morning. When these parents choose to take their children to the emergency department, they assure their child's safety, but they also incur significant costs for themselves and their employers. This decision-making scenario is transformed by telehealth. Patients can consult with a virtual doctor at any time for rapid, convenient advice and treatment instead of rushing to an ER. If they still need to go to the ER, the virtual doctor directs them there.

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Early warnings are only useful if they result in a swift response. Healthcare providers can use telehealth to remotely monitor patient data and identify potential concerns. Then they can swiftly call patients for video consultation and make therapy recommendations. Early intervention, in particular, results in better care and significant cost savings. These early interventions improve patient health and avoid the substantial medical expenses that would otherwise occur by preventing patients from becoming ill or experiencing a catastrophic event.

Telehealth in developing nations

Telehealth or e-health services can deploy a huge set of advantages in developing and under-developing nations. Rural geolocations with the support of the local administration, are employing significant benefits from telehealth as it improves access to care, lowers costs, and allows for early intervention, all of which lead to better health outcomes. In any country, the rich and educated have always had the means and access to healthcare, however, reduced cost means a lot to people with lesser financially stability. The pandemic has shown to the world the magnitude of this jarring gap in healthcare access between the developed and developing economies.

Limited medical facilities and insufficient manpower have always forced the patients from remote areas to travel to metro cities in search of quality treatments. The huge crowd on the roads and premises of AIIMS hospitals has been clear proof. Healthtech has strengthened the care delivery system in such geolocations where doctors' availability was a huge challenge.

  • It has prominently improved the healthcare system for patients who are aged or suffering from chronic conditions by availing in-home patient monitoring services.
  • Technology has been a boon for doctors when it comes to obtaining case management support by specialists.
  • One-click case history of patients is the easiest means to share data and get suggestions from peers.
  • With the advent of healthcare delivery systems, this disparity across various patient demographics is getting bridged and the government can further play a huge role by partnering with start-ups to bridge this gap.

A phone, internet connection, NGOs in partnership with the government, and telehealth platforms with their kiosks available at local post offices of remote locations is all that is needed to provide proper healthcare to all.

(This article is authored by Ramya Subramanian, Co-founder and COO of Docty, a global telehealth startup)

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