The COVID-19 pandemic’s unprecedented contagion has forced the world into an indefinite lockdown. With over 15.5 million confirmed cases at the time of writing, COVID-19 is now one of the deadliest infectious diseases to hit humankind since the Spanish flu in 1918.
The once-in-a-century pandemic does not discriminate, fatally affecting economies and most especially, front liners.
Every day, there are increased losses of frontliners worldwide to the fast-moving disease. Trusted to bear the brunt of COVID-19, health care workers are battling fatigue and new waves of infections daily.
The war on the pandemic now aims to protect front liners to avoid leaving countries more vulnerable, and with this cause comes ingenious solutions to provide contactless care and recovery for infected patients, one of which is the developing potential of telehealth services.
But how exactly can telehealth contribute to the fight against the pandemic?
Telehealth refers to the use of digital communications to remotely deliver care and services. It’s widely used to connect the patient and the provider through means of video conferences and other telecommunication technology to continue care at a distance.
Telehealth services aim to break down social and cultural barriers, widening access to health care – especially in rural and isolated communities – by enabling virtual appointments at home regardless of the patient and the provider’s current location.
From getting diagnoses and treatments to providing educational information, telehealth is made to be a more efficient alternative to face-to-face visits. Because of the more improved method of communications online, telehealth bridges the long distance between patient and provider, enabling swift contact and care whenever needed.
There are different types of modalities that further explain how telehealth remotely delivers health care:
This refers to a two-way interaction done in real-time between a patient and provider. It involves the use of a telephone, mobile phone, computer or any other device that can provide audio or video communication.
This refers to a process where medical information such as health history is transmitted via digital communication systems. Using store-and-forward technology, specialists will collate all relevant data (images, videos, etc.) and send it to the patient in a secure email or channel.
Also known as remote patient management, this refers to the collection of personal health and medical data from a distance. The data is then digitally collected and sent to a provider in a different location to gather assessment and recommendations.
RPM provides an untraditional way of monitoring and tracking health care information once a patient has been released to prevent readmission.
The enduring struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic is the difficulty to follow social distancing and community quarantine rules. With most of the world adapting to the new normal, the majority of face-to-face interactions are being replaced with contactless solutions.
Notably, one of the first few countries to leverage the use of telehealth is Australia, whose AUS$2.4 billion health plan, released on March 11, 2020, included a new Medicare service involving health consultations via phone or video.
GPs, specialists, nurses, and mental health allied workers are to offer their services for these telehealth consultations which are bulk-billed at no cost to patients.
Australia has well-established telehealth services that anyone can avail at home. Local bulk-billing medical centres such as WellCrest Medical Tarneit conveniently offer no out-of-pocket cost for patients holding a valid Medicare card for all Medicare-eligible procedures.
As long as patients have access to telephones or internet-enabled devices, they can easily connect with WellCrest Medical Tarneit’s roster of GPs and specialists at any time in their current location.
By booking appointments via WellCrest Medical Tarneit’s website, Facebook, or through the Health Engine app, patients can simply choose a practice or practitioner and the time most convenient for them to conduct the call.
Once confirmed, the medical centre will be sending instructions on how to easily start the consultation on your preferred device.
During the call, patients will be able to access comprehensive care similar to face-to-face appointments. This includes getting medical advice, specialist referrals, scripts, prescriptions, and more, subject to the practitioner’s preferences.
As the pandemic becomes more lethal in its spread around the world, there’s no better alternative than high-quality medical service in the comfort of our homes.