The pandemic has been a cataclysm for health care. The specialized personnel had to go out of the way to receive and treat the sick, continuing the rest of the medical services. To do so, the health sector has had to turn to a new care formula named telemedicine, and, as specialists in the field say, it is here to stay.
The growth of telemedicine with Covid-19 has been impressive. In just a few months, progress has been made that would have taken years to advance in a normal situation.
Let’s discuss how Covid-19 accelerated the growth of telemedicine services and what are its advantages and challenges!
Telemedicine Services are Permanent!
The shift of healthcare towards telemedicine with Covid-19 is permanent. It is not a reversible path. Telemedicine was destined to be implemented as support of medical care. Sooner or later, part of this attention would turn to telematic means.
The scholars of the matter even spoke of the automation of some processes, artificial intelligence for pre-diagnosis and even remote surgical interventions. For the latter, there is still a long way to go. Especially at a technical level, since 5G networks are needed, and a supply of robots to imitate the movements of a surgeon faithfully.
But other means of remote medicine proposed for the future have now been adopted during the pandemic. Telemedicine with Covid-19 has made it possible to normalize diagnoses through photographs of wounds or skin lesions, which have been common during these months and will continue. Evidence indicates that the most common tool used for telemedicine during the pandemic has been the smartphone. More than 80% of consultations are by phone to protect as much as possible from the virus. Health centers continue to be dirty centers in some way, where PCR and covid tests are carried out. But telemedicine services have drastically reduced the presence of people in health care facilities, preventing the spread of the virus.
Evidence shows that telemedicine services increased by 80% in the US by the end of 2020. In addition, the use of remote medicine had risen tenfold, the greatest transformation in the history of US medicine. This is not only the case in the US, but the demand for consultations via telephone has increased worldwide.
Advantages of Telemedicine Services
One of the main advantages of telemedicine with or without Covid-19 is convenience. Time is saved since no displacement is necessary. At the same time, waiting in the rooms for medical centers is avoided.
Telemedicine, for many years, was a niche, but now it has become something totally necessary. Now telemedicine is almost daily, both in public and private healthcare. In primary care now, almost all consultations are not face-to-face. It has to be a pathology that you have to go to the hospital necessarily.
The Importance of Technology in Telemedicine
There are more and more tools to complement this remote assistance. Not everything will be telemedicine in the future, but a significant part will fall into this category.
The specialties where telemedicine can be used the most and where it has appeared the most now, in these few months, are those where you can see yourself through your mobile phone or computer, and medical tests are not necessary. Although, above all, primary care stands out as the one that has taken the most advantage of remote medicine techniques.
Telemedicine: the Future Intertwines with the Present
Telemedicine services can effectively resolve doctor visits or emergency services by telephone or videoconference. There is no doubt that the momentum will be sustained to a certain extent in the future.
The pandemic has also served as a crash course for clinicians in telecare. The companies’ staff specialized in telemedicine, and the doctors who attend medical centers have gained experience. In these months they have already learned a lot about telephone service, how far they can go with the phone and how far they cannot.
Of course, many improvements are needed in telemedicine, but the technical part has already been resolved in some cases. It is a long road to travel, both for researchers and health professionals.
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