Thursday 12 March 2020
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to escalate and is now considered a global pandemic1 and local health services care for the critically ill, can patients look to technology to help give them access to medical services?
Officials from both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged the use of telehealth/telemedicine services – also known as virtual/remote care/e-health – to help triage the sick and reduce the numbers of people in already crowded medical facilities2.
What is telemedicine and e-health?
According to the WHO, “Telehealth involves the use of telecommunications and virtual technology to deliver healthcare outside of traditional healthcare facilities. Telehealth, which requires access only to telecommunications, is the most basic element of “eHealth”, which uses a wider range of information and communication technologies.”3
As well as traditional telephone services, mobile phone apps, live video conferencing and mobile patient monitoring all play a role in telemedicine programmes to help provide first line medical consultation and ongoing treatment for chronic conditions.
How can telemedicine help during the COVID-19 outbreak?
With large gatherings and events being cancelled to help limit the spread of the virus, as well as governments and experts encouraging isolation or quarantine for those with any symptoms, telemedicine can play a role in triaging those in isolation.
Dr Leena Johns, Head of Health & Wellness at MAXIS GBN, says “It’s in moments like these that access to telemedicine services can prove to be a real gamechanger. Employees and their dependents with flu and cold symptoms could consider video-calls as opposed to in-person visits to healthcare providers as a first step.
“Telemedicine can also help people suffering from other non-emergency conditions during the outbreak, such as an upset stomach, headache, musculoskeletal pains or dermatology conditions. They may want to use the services of a doctor via the telemedicine line from the comfort of their home, to avoid long waits in medical centres and the potent exposure to viruses in a crowded setting.”
If you would like to find out more about how telemedicine can help, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your MAXIS representative.
1Anon, BBC News https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-51839944 (source March 2020)
2 Erin Brodwin, statnews.com https://www.statnews.com/2020/02/28/coronavirus-telehealth-digital-health-us-hospitals-companies-face-challenges/ (sourced March 2020)
3 Anon, The World Health Organization https://www.who.int/sustainable-development/health-sector/strategies/telehealth/en/ (sourced March 2020)
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