Telemedicine Supporting COVID-19 Management
March 22, 2021
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by Snigdh Baunthiyal

Well before the COVID vaccines and the parallel theories around them stirred a frenzy in the world, there were a growing number of people suspicious about vaccines and unwilling to get them. According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 20 million people in the world are unvaccinated. With awareness being the key issue, telemedicine might be the best solution to solving the problem of under-vaccination.

How does Telemedicine work
Technology and the current pandemic have led the world to focus on healthcare. The prime focus being on making healthcare more accessible and affordable for people. Telemedicine is emerging as a rapidly developing field in that regard. While telemedicine has been around since the 1950s, it’s really growing in popularity now.
With the pandemic, an overwhelmingly burdened hospital staff and hospitals not being the safest place to be at anymore, talking to a healthcare professional online or even through telephone in some cases, is proving to be a popular choice. The bonys is that telemedicine is now being promoted to improve vaccination coverage as well.

Telemedicine and vaccination
With Covid-19 vaccines slowly rolling out in some countries, there are a significant number of people unable to take the vaccine. Since vaccination is essential, but remains optional in many countries, telemedicine is helping educate those that are required to have them and those that are still skeptical.

Consultations via call, text, or video call between patients and healthcare professionals allow dedicated time to help a patient understand the benefits of vaccination programmes, as well as for the doctor to talk through any doubts a patient may have. Findings suggest it is a great way to address vaccine hesitancy and improve the numbers when it comes to the number of people getting vaccinated.

Telemedicine has also proven useful in the approach to actual vaccinations. It is used to alert people about vaccine availability and when their next dose is due. A good case in point is the ‘Text4baby’ service, which provides influenza vaccination education and reminders to pregnant women. In India, there was a 41% increase in vaccination participation after an SMS service alerted expecting mothers of the vaccines available and their benefits. 

Telemedicine and Covid-19
Many healthcare practices have switched to telemedicine as a way to relieve burden on the infrastructure and continue operating their normal services. This has turned into a breather for a lot of healthcare facilities, stretched with COVID emergencies in addition to their regular dose of in and outpatients. Telemedicine helps prevent any sort of direct physical contact, whilst a healthcare provider can continue taking care of its patients.

This has resulted in less rush at the hospitals, which is important, considering the pandemic. Many studies have shown that investing more in telemedicine has reduced the use of PPE kits, and in maintaining revenue streams for medical practices and most importantly, doctor-patient safety. Telemedicine might soon become a basic need for the general population, and health care providers. It will also help people who are in quarantine to get real time consultation with doctors and prevent further risk.

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