Telemedicine for Epidemics
Telemedicine has become increasingly prevalent in modern medicine, and can be a key means of providing effective medical support in times of crisis. In terms of direct financial market impact, telemedicine hit $38.3 billion in 2018, and varying projections see that expanding fourfold beyond $130 billion by 2025. In addition to the role telemedicine plays in pandemic response, it offers modern efficiency benefits and advantages.
Flattening the curve
We're all learning new terminology and becoming educated about the critical factors affecting epidemic response. Flattening The Curve will be a term not soon forgotten. What does it mean?
At the time of this writing, COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, appears to have a high transmission/infection rate and is surging. While rate of diagnosis is catching up across the globe through availability of rapid results test kits, it's currently unclear what percentage of population by country may be affected. It appears true at this moment that the risk of serious illness is restricted to vulnerable segments (older patients, patients having underlying conditions or receiving treatments that weaken the immune system), and the case fatality rate (CFR) is also low. With the high infection rate, however, even these low numbers of symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization, specialty care and equipment, are enough to overwhelm the healthcare system if the rate of infection isn't slowed to match current capability.
Single most important factor - reduce contact
This is the single most important factor during an outbreak. Telemedicine solutions reduce physician/patient contact, but also serve to limit interaction patient-to-patient and the exposure in an office situation of caregivers and family. Telemedicine is instrumental in flattening the curve.
Specifically these technologies aid in the remote early suspected positive diagnosis of patients affected by the expanding outbreak, and encourage them to self-quarantine. Also, these technologies can offer early suspected negative diagnoses, reduce panic and a rush on medical facilities.
Helping Low Mobility and the High Risk, Remotely
Equally important, though, are all the routine or unrelated care visits and consultations that can be accomplished remotely through telemedicine solutions during high-risk times or when patients have low mobility. These solutions allow for these appointments to continue at a high flow-through rate while eliminating risk of exposure to an epidemic outbreak.
This current emergency will pass, but we have learned much about the need for these technologies in daily medical work, and as critical curve-flattening infrastructure for future outbreaks.
Support for Remote Patients
With the high availability of broadband, even in remote markets, and the penetration of smartphones and home computing, telemedicine options make it possible for those in more remote regions to have access to the same top-tier, modern medical care as those in urban markets in times of crisis. Owing to solutions like IoT, drone technology, and reliable long-distance medicine, getting help to people who aren't in a municipality and can't make a long trip becomes more viable and could dramatically slow infection rates into rural areas where treatment availability is difficult and resources are limited.
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Protecting medical professionals
Medical and extended care facilities are ground zero for the spread of infectious diseases. Our brave medical practitioners are working very long hours in extended exposure conditions, necessarily giving themselves irregular rest, nourishment and hydration. A Chinese doctor not known to be in the physiological 'at risk' group succumbed to COVID-19, in theory due to continuous extended contact with the virus.
Telemedicine is one way to continue to offer a high standard of care while increasing efficiency and reducing strain on medical staff.
Working smarter with Telemedicine
If physicians and staff can maintain a high patient volume under conditions with less exposure and orderly and efficient scheduling, our medical teams can find times to rest, take care of themselves, and recharge. The critical need for these downtimes will be exposed over the next several weeks as the already furious pace quickens and takes a toll (including infection) on these teams.
Telemedicine today is the health of these teams tomorrow.
In the federal response to COVID-19, we're seeing unprecedented new dynamics in cooperation between business and federal, state and local government. Corporations in manufacturing, technology, retail, healthcare - just about every sector - are finding themselves in a position to come to the aid of citizens in this country and around the world based on their unique abilities and preparedness. While profit motive is moot the impetus for these corporations to offer these partnerships today, the experience and the visibility of these efforts will translate down the line to new profit pools for these participating corporations.
Telemedicine is an Increasingly Better Solution
In healthcare, increased ability to manage patients expands the profitability of a healthcare facility, stabilizes operations, and could position it for government partnership. Healthcare institutions that are technologically progressive and have a demonstrated efficiency and stability from that vision stand to be elevated.
Telemedicine is now. Telemedicine is table stakes for this kind of modernization. And telemedicine is tried and tested - meaning that implementation can be seamless and benefits immediately realized.
Increasing Potential for Telemedicine
Telemedicine in healthcare can be an important strategy for handling pandemic outbreaks while keeping a record of the infected and providing top-tier medical service.
It's not difficult to see how a melding of these technologies will transform health services. Telemedicine for remote consulting and diagnosis, and perhaps - just to cite one example - services based on models from other industries (e.g. PostMates and UberEats) will develop, transforming how patient samples might be collected and processed.
The Digital Transformation future with Telemedicine
The Digital Transformation future will leverage robotics, AI, data, IoT, and web technologies in every industry. Health care is not an exception. Imagine smart robotics taking patient samples and automated drone technology delivering samples with no risk from human-human transmission. Today, telemedicine infrastructure that's already in place is leading the way and makes the transition to such solutions much easier.
These solutions go beyond pandemic response. They are the future of medicine.
If you're interested in speaking to a telemedicine expert at PTG, contact us at 248 668 3100.
Incorporating Telemedicine into Healthcare Services
The key to modern telemedicine, especially during a crisis, is finding solutions from the right providers. There just isn't time for hospital administrators, CIOs and IS&T teams to give this a priority of attention. It needs to happen quickly, frictionless, affordably....and it needs to work.
If you're ready to take that next step in providing medical solutions, you might look into whether telemedicine is right for your practice. Relying on providers like Promotion Technology Group (PTG) allows health teams to acquire, install, and manage telemedicine solutions with confidence. Like everything we do, our telemedicine technology and service solutions just work.