Telemedicine has been a major stepping-stone to improve health services in both rural and urban areas. It is an electronic communication or telecommunication for distributing health-related information and services around the world.
From image sharing to teleconferencing, this new-age technology is helping various people in rural and urban locations – both those with limited access to care and those searching immediate access to care. Currently, there are about 200 telemedicine networks and 3,500 service sites in the U.S., with over half of the hospitals in the nation using some form of telehealth.
Here are four essential ways telemedicine is proving to be essential for rural and urban areas.
This electronic mode of healthcare services provides access to care, especially to those who live in regions with limited or no qualified physicians. Even in urban areas, many people may not be able to reach qualified physicians due to time to travel, traffic and availability constraints. But with the help of telemedicine, they can get in touch with practitioners and specialists via electronic communication.
Telemedicine services require internet access to communicate and share information.
Telemedicine offers special services to women by providing easy access to OB-GYNs for neonatal and maternal care. But telemedicine has proven to improve this condition over the years due to faster access to eHealth interventions. This is because the use of mobile phones is higher even in areas with limited resources. That’s why telemedicine has proven to be a big hit even in sub-Saharan African regions.
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is one of the major causes leading to infant blindness. But with telemedicine, healthcare providers can prevent infant blindness.
In India, it’s reported that over 8% of 30 million birth every year is at the risk of blindness caused by ROP. The smaller a baby at birth, more chances are of developing ROP. What’s even worse is the fact that the treatment needs to be done within 72 hours.
With telemedicine patients can get in touch with physicians. Technicians can arrive at their location with retinal cameras to capture the photos and upload them to telePACS software. This software instantly provides feedback from qualified specialists to respond appropriately. Thus, telemedicine is improving the lives of many children as well.
Around 36.9 million people in the world are living with HIV and 66% of these people are reported to be living in sub-Saharan Africa. In these regions, the death rate due to AIDS has increased over the years. Telemedicine allows for access by people living in different parts of the world to get care they normally would not have.
Even Vodafone Foundation has collaborated with the Lesotho Health Ministry to develop a mobile app where health specialists can offer onsite HIV testing via mobile database. This way patients may get in touch with the healthcare providers and even pay for their services easily via online payment mode.
These are four ways examples of how telemedicine is improving people’s lives. Of course there more applications of telemedicine/virtual care as physicians and healthcare partners expand the provisions. As these applications grow there is a need for much-needed funding to ensure everyone across the globe gets better and quicker access to healthcare facilities.