Telehealth moves forward due to impact of Covid-19

With some astounding numbers of persons infected and deaths due to Covid-19 all around the world, this pandemic is leaving behind some lessons to healthcare systems that shall be taken advantage of in the future. One of the most promising ones is telehealth.

It has been many years since tools of this kind have been put in operation in different countries, but it has seen a steep increase in relevance since the beginning of this pandemic, giving it the prominence it deserves. All of this happening while health systems are close to collapsing, a series of premises designed to provide primary care are closed and with the increased risk represented by visiting a hospital, telehealth has instantaneously become a safe alternative for the provision of healthcare services and has moved forward in a couple of weeks more than in so many years.

The acceleration of telehealth due to the pandemic has brought big advantages both to patients and healthcare providers, that hopefully will bring new improvements towards the usage of such systems. The usage that has been observed in the last couple of weeks has shown that telehealth has enabled a better usage of resources and has enabled lowering the pressure over the healthcare sector. On top of that, looking ahead it represents an opportunity to reduce the waiting lists and that it is a path to solve the access to healthcare for patients in remote locations.

Another advantage is cost savings. A example of that is shown by Kidscare that considers that telehealth could lower the number of pediatric consultations by 80%, allowing for savings of more than 187 million Euros in Spain alone.

One of the populations that will be mostly impacted by the usage of telehealth is the one of chronic patients. Technology will allow the improvement of their self-care and to enhance the adherence to treatments while also improving the monitoring by the healthcare providers and lowering hospital’s costs.

Telehealth is here to stay and it is essential looking forward, as stated by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “to take full advantage of digital technologies to get to universal healthcare. At the end, those technologies are not a end by themselves, but essential tools to promote health, to support global safety and to serve vulnerable populations.

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