2020 has been an atypical year. One that brought with it advances in technology that would have taken years to arrive. Especially in the health sector, thanks to the strengthening of telemedicine and its use for online diagnosis. Behaviour that could be related to changes in e-health and public health policy related to the pandemic.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020), telemedicine in the United States had an increase of 154% during the last week of March, if we compare it with the previous year. Meanwhile, this increase was 153%. An increase that has been strengthened by telemedicine services such as Movistar Salud; about which you can obtain more information through the Living App Movistar Salud.
Without a doubt, Spain is one of the countries that is committed to this modality. In fact, since 1990 the General Directorate of Telecommunications of Spain has been sponsoring e-health projects. An example of this is the Canary Islands Health Videophone Network.
Recently, these online diagnostic projects are focused on achieving national coverage. The most recent program is called Online Health. This is a project that provides coverage to 43 of the 46 million citizens enrolled in the National Health System.
Advantages of telemedicine and online diagnosis
Telemedicine is defined as the provision of health care services. A service that is provided remotely through the use of technology. Online diagnosis can include making medical visits through the computer to monitoring the vital signs of patients remotely.
Using technology to deliver health care has several advantages. For this and other reasons, the use of online medical consultations has grown significantly over the last decade. From the patient’s point of view, these benefits include:
- Convenience in travel times.
- The ability to provide care for people with mobility limitations. Especially those in rural areas who do not have access to a local doctor or clinic.
- Medical service providers also benefit from online diagnostic consultations. These include low overhead costs. In addition to reducing exposure to diseases and infections and increasing patient satisfaction due to the agility of care.
How online diagnostic consultations work in telemedicine
Telemedicine works by providing both the healthcare professional and the patient with a means to make video calls. The online video consultation software allows patients to reserve an agreed time for their diagnosis online. All this, with the aim of meeting with a healthcare professional in a virtual environment. Queries happen as follows:
- The patient calls the doctor’s office or health service to request an appointment.
- The receptionist and the patient agree on a mutual time for the video call.
- The receptionist sends a message with a click to make a video call.
- The patient joins through their unique secure link.
- The health professional joins through a virtual meeting room and follows his itinerary by consulting the virtual appointment calendar.
- The connection is made with an initial assessment. In this step, the GP analyzes the symptoms and carries out the pertinent controls.
- Some cases contemplate the use of a smartphone with video assistance to perform the online diagnosis. An example can be given by asking the patient to place the phone on his chest to observe breathing.
- As the last step, the online doctor can request emergency assistance for the patient or prescribe an online prescription for over-the-counter drugs suggested through the platform, directly to the person’s email or through an online messaging service.
Some platforms used for online diagnosis
For the development of appointments, connection platforms are also being used that until now were for private use in the office or business environment.
Such is the case of videoconferencing platforms such as Skype or Microsoft Teams, which have served as alternative solutions. For health professionals, they are an advantage, since through these they can see upcoming appointments, both virtual and physical, and control their times.
What future awaits online diagnosis in telemedicine
There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of telemedicine. With rapid advances in technology, online diagnosis is likely to become easier and more accepted in the coming years.
Glasses and smartwatches can now monitor patient health data and transmit it in real-time to healthcare professionals for online diagnosis. In this way, everyone receives a frictionless user experience, removing barriers so that both healthcare professionals and patients can easily join the next big step in e-health.