Telemedicine Healthcare system

By: Nimra Iftikhar

Telemedicine technology has been increasingly adopted by health professionals throughout the last decades, even making its way into many leading electronic medical records (EMR) systems. Also known as tele-health services, telemedicine technology aims to improve the doctor-patient relationship by streamlining the way healthcare providers see their patients. The first uses of telemedicine to transmit video, images, and complex media data occurred in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s due to the needs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Nebraska Psychology Institute. Telemedicine has been used to improve patient outcomes for more than half-century. Telemedicine have been shown to reduce the cost of health care and increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, share heath professional staffing, reduce travel times, and fewer or shorter hospitals stays. It can be used for a various range of appointment types, including remote consultations and follow-up care. It allows practitioners to remotely assess, diagnose and treat patients while at the same time offering patients a method to more conveniently and affordably access healthcare. Telemedicine refers to technologies that bring patients and healthcare providers closer together in a digital environment.

This technology has become a growing pillar of the healthcare industry. There are many comprehensive practice management and telehealth platform for heath and wellness professionals like, Healthie.com, practice better.com, simple practice.com, swyMed.com etc. In developing countries many medical practices surveyed did not yet offer telemedicine services, but many of them planned on implementing telemedicine soon. Telemedicine is a growing trend that more medical practices add to their services every year. As more patients are exposed to telehealth, these services become normalized, driving demand and further adoption. Nevertheless, many developed countries around the world have established parity laws, which set rules for how payers provide reimbursement for telehealth services. While parity laws are a step toward standardizing payment to healthcare providers for the provision of telehealth services.”In someareas around the Globe, laws have been passed to mandate either partial insurance coverage for eligible telemedicine services or full parity in reimbursement when the same service is delivered online.

According to a report, Dr Suhail Chughtai, UK-based doctor of Pakistani origin, built the telemedicine software used to connect to the intensive care unit in Lahore. The software allows doctors to talk via video link and exchange copies of case notes as they speak. His aim was “to plug the gap” in Pakistan caused by a relative lack of intensive care specialists, by “importing” those doctors from the UK via telemedicine. Dr Suhail Chughtai has also created a number of other similar projects. One, run in conjunction with the government in Punjab province, allows doctors in the UK, Ireland, US and Pakistan to hold free virtual consultations with coronavirus patients – meaning they don’t need to risk travelling to a hospital or clinic and infecting others along the way. Doctors in the four countries have carried out 35,000 consultations since March, with members of the Association of Pakistani Physicians in the UK among those offering their services. And another recently launched project aims to connect patients visiting rural health clinics in Punjab with centralised teams of doctors in more urban centres. Dr Suhai Chughtai sees such plan of action as the future of medicine. Where a doctor and patient can speak the same language, we can create a bridge no matter where they are, through telemedicine. There are other groups of British-Pakistani doctors also spending their free time trying to boost healthcare capacity in Pakistan. The “Midland Doctors” charity was set up in the aftermath of a disastrous earthquake in Pakistani-administered Kashmir in 2005, and established a hospital in the city of Muzaffarabad. Now, the charity’s members in Britain have been using their expertise to offer online training to doctors in Pakistan, as well as holding “virtual ward rounds” of critical care units.

Even so, Telemedicine improves patient access; it increases time efficiencies by reducing travel to visits, allowing patients to complete visits in the comfort of their home or office; it reduces the overall cost of care, and improves quality and patient experience.

It has long been an around-the-corner technology for the healthcare industry. Now, however, it is becoming a frequently used tool that can save time, money and improve patient outcomes.

Patient demand for telehealth services is growing quickly. Offering telemedicine is becoming an industry standard for medical practices and hospitals alike. The major goals of telemedicine today are to develop next-generation telehealth tools and technologies to enhance healthcare delivery to medically underserved populations using telecommunication technology, to increase access to medical specialty services while decreasing healthcare costs, and to provide training of healthcare providers, clinical trainees, and students in health-related fields.