Author | Arantxa HerranzThe COVID-19 health crisis has even reshaped the uses and customs of medicine. Whether this is to give priority to people affected by this coronavirus, or to prevent the spread of the virus, medical services around the world have made every effort to prevent physical contact with patients. Healthcare professionals have also avoided in-person appointments with the aim of reducing their exposure to people who could be infected.In fact, a survey conducted by the company Evidation Health, found that nearly a third of people missed or decided to cancel their scheduled medical appointments. This has also meant that a further 7% were not able to get their prescriptions.This same study, however, also reveals one of the major consequences of all of this: the rise of telemedicine. For those who decided to cancel in-person appointments, around 4 in 10 (39%) of them used some form of telemedicine. But this is where one of the challenges facing this type of healthcare lies, 60% did not even try to get an appointment online.Getting back to healthcare providers, many of them have also needed to equip themselves with personal protective equipment (PPE), even in everyday situations and they have tried to minimize the impact of patient overload on health facilities.These circumstances have opened the way to reconsider whether medical teams should change the way they classify, evaluate and treat patients. This is particularly evident when meetings do not take place face-to-face using methods that are not based on in-person meetings.
Telemedicine: different types for different situationsWhat does seem inevitable is that telemedicine will be, rather than the exception, an increasingly common option. Although this pandemic has accelerated the process, there is still a long way to go.Not surprisingly, all those involved need to adapt to these new ways of working. And, clearly, significant improvements in the exchange of information will be required, guaranteeing the security and confidentiality of data and ensuring that both patients and doctors have the technology required and that it is easy and intuitive to use for everyone, regardless of their economic, social and age condition.Telemedicine will clearly encompass various types of care. The consultancy McKinsey identified 5 models:
- On-demand virtual urgent care (as an alternative to emergency department visits).
- Virtual office visits for consultations that do not require physical examinations or concurrent procedures.
- Treatment follow-up.
- Treatments such as occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
- Home medication administration.