Healthcare Tech

8 Ways Telemedicine Is Helping the Global Health Workforce


8 Ways Telemedicine Is Helping the Global Health Workforce

Never has telemedicine been so useful as during the pandemic. When people were unable to leave their homes, they didn’t have to leave healthcare behind and the ability to communicate with healthcare workers online or over the phone became the new norm. However, it’s a technology that has been in development for some time.

Here are some ways that telemedicine and global health are working together to build a better future for everyone.

1. Remote Access to Expert Specialists

For most of history, if you needed help from a highly trained specialist, you needed to travel to them. This often resulted in much higher healthcare costs, since travel and lodging had to be considered. It also deprived more remote areas of specialist services because there wasn’t enough demand to justify hiring them.

For example, in some remote parts of North America, there are small mining towns that may have nothing more than a nurse practitioner and certainly not a doctor specialized in any type of medicine such as neurology. While they may need tests that are not available with the equipment in that town, some diagnoses can be made without the need to travel to a larger city center.

Now, it’s possible for a specialist to assist or diagnose from halfway around the world if necessary based on the local healthcare worker’s findings. This has made it much easier to get patients the care they needed, particularly in urgent situations, despite being in a more remote area.

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2. Offer Telehealth Patient Education

There’s a need for more education in many areas of the world, which could drastically reduce the prevalence of certain health issues. Sometimes, it’s more about a behavioral change than treating the disease.

Providing education via video, audio or other methods is a good way to ensure anyone can access this type of education, even in areas that may not have healthcare workers.

3. Improving Mobile Disaster Response Units

It’s not always possible to send the best medical professionals into the field for disaster relief. However, with a mobile disaster response unit, health care workers may enter the area and report back on the situation. This can extend to individual patients who may suffer from a range of injuries or health concerns, which the immediate responders are not equipped to handle.

With telemedicine, those who are sent to the disaster zone can communicate with other professionals back at the hospital or even in another country to determine the best course of action. This can allow triaging in the field and ensures that the patients are sent to the best hospital to manage their issues.

4. Provide Backup for Health Professionals

In some cases, a health professional may not be entirely certain of the best method of care for a patient. Usually, doctors would consult each other, but if this is not possible, then telemedicine can bridge that gap. A neurologist in one city may connect with another in a city across the country or in another country and they may discuss the case, share images and test results and compare notes to come up with the best treatment method for the patient.

While this may be particularly useful for rarer diseases and more unusual cases, it’s also very important for those who simply need a second opinion on a simpler case, as well. It’s important that healthcare workers feel supported and confident in their decisions and no one can be expected to know it all.

5. Provide a Higher Level of Care for Developing Countries

Many developing countries lack the type of healthcare options that are available in the more developed areas of the world. This creates a huge disparity between countries and can result in higher mortality rates for everything from the simple flu to childbirth.

Telemedicine can be a way to create a more comprehensive healthcare system in countries that do not have them on their own. In some cases, this may be due to exporting talent (where promising doctors move to a more developed country to practice) or it could be a lack of educational opportunities. Either way, connecting with doctors in other countries can help reduce mortality rates and improve health from a distance in developing countries.

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6. Translation Between Doctors and Patients

One common problem faced in large cities where there are patients from a variety of backgrounds is finding a patient who speaks a language no one else in the hospital speaks. If there is no translator, this can be extremely difficult and may even impede diagnosis. Fortunately, via telemedicine, a translator may be utilized to ensure the necessary information is collected and managed.

In some cases, this may be a three-way call, with the translator in one area, the patient in another, and the healthcare provider in another. With 6,909 languages in the world, it’s no surprise that there is a dire need for translators.

7. Maintain Health Providers in Rural Areas

It’s no secret that it can be quite difficult to keep a rural health provider around. They tend to find it difficult and frustrating to work in a remote area and may feel alone and unsupported. With telemedicine, it’s possible for the healthcare worker to have another opinion on call.

When healthcare workers feel supported and have the option of speaking with other professionals, they’re more likely to stay where they are and will be more motivated to work in remote areas.

8. Reduce the Cost of Medical Care

Visiting a doctor or specialist can be very expensive, but telemedicine may be able to reduce this cost by providing information with limited resources. Doctors may work from anywhere and the availability of the internet just about everywhere now makes it easier to reach anyone anywhere. This can help drop the overhead costs by providing care in simpler environments, without the need to travel to see specialists or even to get the tests required for diagnosis.

Telemedicine has been around since the 20th century, but it has really come into its own lately. With high speed internet and more options for communication becoming open around the world, telemedicine is now free to function.


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