The number of global cases has crossed 250,000, with a death-rate of around 4%. Coronavirus is a grave concern; within a span of two months, it has spread around several continents. With the outbreak of coronavirus having entered a new stage, more cases are being diagnosed, and a considerable number of suspected patients need a primary assessment on a daily basis. Hospital visits by suspected patients may increase the chances of cross-contamination, consequently expanding the pool of infected patients.
Telehealth services allow patients and healthcare providers to communicate virtually. It helps patients to restrict their visits to hospitals or doctor’s offices. The telehealth system could be extremely useful in the current scenario of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will significantly reduce the chances of infection without compromising the patient’s and healthcare practitioner’s health. Telehealth offers remote screening and treatment facilities without any physical contact; it would ensure that the patient does not infect healthcare workers and other symptomatic patients. The services would prove to be an effective measure, especially for patients who do not have access to healthcare facilities.
China implemented the use of robots and telemedicine services for the patients suffering from the COVID-19 virus strain. The robots could not only be used to transfer supplies but also to perform preliminary diagnosis in patients using artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. The services could be provided to regions with limited medical supplies and an inability to tackle this new disease. Even retired doctors and other healthcare providers came forward and helped patients using virtual connectivity. Introducing the use of technology amidst a medical crisis was a notable step by the Government of China to reduce the chances of infection and protect healthcare employees. The use of robots and other technologically advanced equipment played a vital role in battling against this pandemic. Robust protocols and control measures implemented in China have now reduced the number of cases being reported each day, with no new COVID-19 cases, confirmed or suspected, having been reported in the Hubei region for two days in a row.
Other countries have also recently instructed insurance companies to include telemedicine consultation in their existing health plans. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global fight, and governments are taking steps that are in the best interests of the community. General physicians will now be able to provide consultation to the patients from the comfort of their sterilized environment. Elderly patients (above the age of 60), people with a high risk of infection, pregnant women, couples with new-born babies, and people in quarantine or self-isolation would be eligible for the telemedicine consult under revised insurance plans.
More than 70% of people have access to internet connectivity. The consults could be provided on even a mobile phone using Skype, Facetime, or similar video calling applications. It is high time healthcare start-ups come up with innovative solutions.
The uptake of telehealth services in a situation as demanding as this time would make people more aware and accepting of the technology. Tele-consultation would also help patients with existing health conditions that have been pushed aside to accommodate the need of the hour. In the long run, it could result in better medical services, especially in rural and remote areas, without the need for extensive travel.