Telemedicine is Good Medicine

by Dr Nick

Telemedicine is Good Medicine

Historically medicine required a patient to visit a doctor to share their problem and be examined. After the examination, the physician makes a diagnosis and treatment is administered. The downside to this, especially in developing countries like Africa, is that many people do not have access to a physician, or have to travel great distances to receive medical attention. However, with the advances in technology, and the introduction of Telemedicine, all of this has been changing in the last few years.

The Traditional Medical Examination

A traditional medical examination consists of 3 main components:

  1. The Patient History (hearing directly from the patient) and listening to the details of their medical history) – this typically contributes 80% of the insight that makes up the final diagnosis.
  2. Physical Exam – this typically contributes about 15% to the final diagnosis
  3. Investigations (such as tests or X-rays) – which only contributes 5% to the final diagnosis.

 

Looking at this breakdown it is evident that the key element of any consultation is based on the patient talking to the physician. With the evolution of technology, we know that mobile devices have enabled us to talk and interact with people easily and over greater distances. If it’s true for general interactions, why not for medical diagnosis and treatment of patients?

Virtual Care
The key element of any consultation is based on the patient talking to the physician
That’s the key element of Telemedicine

Earlier this year Medici, a Telemedicine app, was launched in South Africa. According to an article written by Lauren Kate Rawlins (ITweb digital and innovation editor):

Medici reduces the cost of healthcare without compromising quality of care, thereby reducing medical and worker compensation risk spend. Medici also reduces absenteeism as employees don’t have to be out the office for half the day to speak to their doctors.”

The beauty of this app is that it enables people to have direct access to a healthcare practitioner, from any remote destination.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine was originally developed in the 1800’s to reduce the need for unnecessary office visits.  As access to technology and high-speed connectivity increases telemedicine is quickly becoming an app used for convenience sake.  Just imagine how much work you could get done if you don’t have to leave your home or office to drive to a doctor’s office and then have to sit and wait to see a doctor?

But for Telemedicine access and use to increase, and to continue to expand access to healthcare to underserved and remote communities we need to focus on:

  1. Research to confirm the value
  2. Accessibility improving connectivity worldwide

Research

However fast technology is evolving, people remain resistant to change.  Capturing data that demonstrates the value and positive impact that Telemedicine has, will be essential to broadening acceptance.  The rollout of the Medici platform in South Africa offers a great opportunity to track the experience and detail the successes and challenges associated with Telemedicine

Accessibility

The only way that Telemedicine can work, is if people have access to the high-speed connectivity and the internet.  And although many people have mobile devices, not everyone has high-speed connections.

The full potential of telemedicine cannot be realized without the continued deployment and adoption of advanced and high-speed connectivity technologies, such as fiber, to increase the availability and access of services to non-urban areas.
By Vino Govender CM(SA), Executive for Product Innovation and Marketing at Dark Fibre Africa

Incremental Steps to Telemedicine

I have documented my own personal use of telemedicine while traveling in Ireland – Healthcare in the Age of Social Media and I have talked about the potential of this technology to widen access and simplify the experience for the patient (Telehealth for Everyone)

What small steps are possible in the journey towards telehealth. In the first instance signing up for a service and trying it would be great start and the Medici App makes that easy
If you are a Patient – Sign up here, if you are Physician – Sign up here, and if you are a hospital service or provider system – you can sign up here. Above all else – try it out in some simple form – there are lots of others offering telemedicine services – here’s a list of some of them to choose from
Teledoc – http://www.teladoc.com/
HealthTap – https://www.healthtap.com/
Careclix – http://careclix.com/
ConsultaADoc – http://www.consultadr.com/consumers.php
MeMD – http://www.memd.me/
iCLiniq – https://www.icliniq.com/
American Well – https://www.americanwell.com/how-it-works/
MDLive – https://www.mdlive.com/consumer/seeadoctor.html
MDAligne – http://www.mdaligne.com/MDAligne/contact-a-doctor
StatDoctor – http://statdoctors.com/
Doctor on Demand – http://www.doctorondemand.com/
Specialist on Call – http://staging.specialistsoncall.com/
Livehealth online – https://livehealthonline.com/

This is not an exhaustive list – there are plenty of resources online and some of your choices may be driven by your insurer and which services they may cover. The new Gig economy is washing over every corner of our world and Telemedicine is the latest with Nomad offering a freelance workplace for telehealth providers.


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