The idea that patients could be reached and taken care of in a virtual manner is not a too old one. At best, it is not even a century-old idea. The boom in IT and telecommunication has made everyone realize that instant ideas are sometimes more favorable than the ones coming through the long process of the scientific method. And telehealth is one such idea that got materialized into actuality in a remarkably short period. The range of telemedicine services has expanded from a dial-up connection call to virtual monitoring of patients. Telemedicine in healthcare is an important aspect of the 21st century and requires a detailed investigation of the elements involved in its success. This is something that we are going to do in this discussion!
Before we start discussing the nitty-gritty of telemedicine, we first need to define telemedicine. Rather than using a textbook definition, we would like you to understand the difference between two terms that are used interchangeably. These are telemedicine and telehealth. Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth, the latter being the broader term. While telehealth is all about enhancing healthcare through telecommunication technologies, telemedicine deals with specific kinds of health services. With the rapid developments and changes that are taking place in this model of healthcare, one finds it hard to pin down the exact definition of the aforementioned terms.
How does telehealth work?
It seems a little complex but figuring out how does telemedicine work is quite simple. We are not going into the details here, a summary ought to sort out the basic confusions that you might have in your mind regarding telemedicine. There are two basic ways in which telemedicine works. Either it can be an online account on a website that is managed by a particular healthcare facility or a toll-free telephone number. These days, however, both of these facilities are available quite easily. Sometimes, for a better understanding of the medical condition of the patient, video calling software may also be used. For a first time consultation using telehealth, a patient must submit a consultation request with a particular physician who may accept it or decline it. Sounds simple, right?
What are the requirements?
Since it is a completely unconventional way of tackling and treating patients, the telemedicine requirements are unique. Based on the current telehealth models employed by various healthcare institutes and facilities, you will need to meet the following requirements:
1- An internet connection
2- A video calling platform. This can be an app or a website.
3- A thorough understanding of all the steps involved in initiating the conference call with the concerned healthcare professional.
The pros of telemedicine are numerous. The most obvious one is of course the convenience that telemedicine services offer. This point is of extreme importance, especially for senior citizens. Then, the governments are saving a lot by featuring more telehealth opportunities into the healthcare sector. For example, telemedicine has led to a reduction in the number of unnecessary ER visits. The virtual consultation option means that anyone can have the opinion of a specialist anywhere in the world from anywhere in the world. Also, the OPD burden is reduced which leads to improved better quality patient care!
The Boston-based Partners Healthcare initiative, programs run by the Veterans Health Administration, and many other programs are remarkable telemedicine examples. It is a concept that has gained quite a fame over the last few years. Most of the first world countries are considering telemedicine services. And we cannot even hope to count the number of patients that received treatment and tips through telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic!
Telemedicine Pakistan: An overview
In developing countries like Pakistan, telemedicine is a relatively new concept. While one finds the government making efforts here and there in this sector, most of the initiatives are managed by NGOs. One such NGO that provides telehealth facilities in the country is Transparent Hands.
Transparent Hands is the largest technological platform for crowdfunding in the healthcare sector of Pakistan. It offers a complete range of free healthcare services including medical and surgical treatments, medical camps, and telehealth facilities to the underprivileged community of Pakistan. The platform provides visibility to underprivileged patients and builds a personal and trusted bond between patients and donors while ensuring complete transparency. It also sets up free medical camps in the rural areas of Pakistan in which, free medical consultation, free medicines, and free diagnostic tests are provided to the deserving patients. Donors from all over the world can use the Transparent Hands crowdfunding web portal and donate through 100% secure payment modes. They could select any patient, fund the treatment, and receive regular feedback and updates until the patient has recovered completely.