scitech trend

Adopting telemedicine amid pandemic

Mehdi Reja

22 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Adopting telemedicine amid pandemic

What comes to mind when I ask for a year in review for the year 2020? The corona pandemic, lockdown, and, yes, the entire year was filled with tragedy. The pandemic had a huge human cost, and the global economic crisis had an impact on supply chains, investment, production, jobs, and individual livelihoods.

The World Bank coined the word "The New Poor" to describe those who were not expected to be poor prior to the corona outbreak but will be poor in 2020 and beyond.

The pandemic has disproportionately affected the poor and vulnerable, according to the World Bank, and it is threatening to push millions more into poverty. The pandemic's financial toll increased pressure to cut healthcare spending, particularly among the bottom-of-pyramid population.

To address the new challenges, the current healthcare model must be revisited. A growing number of Non-communicable lifestyle diseases (Heart Disease, Stroke, Type-2 Diabetes, Obesity, and problems related to mental health) and Communicable Diseases are on the demand side of the current healthcare delivery model (Tuberculosis, Viral Infections and HIV).

According to the findings of the study, about 75 percent of patients with low-value problems or issues requiring primary care visit secondary or tertiary healthcare facilities.

On the other hand, the supply side lacks the capacity to effectively serve the current patient segment, let alone handle the high burden that would be imposed during a pandemic. This crisis emphasizes the need to overhaul the current healthcare delivery system. For all segments of the population, it should be accessible, affordable, and available.

Given the resource constraints, affordability, and availability issues, developing certified telemedicine platforms as a Social Business Model in the form of a ‘Virtual Clinic’ run by graduate practitioners from different specialties would be one of the potentials and a viable solution.

Patients will be given digital health ID cards that are connected to their national ID cards. The medical information of patients will be kept in a central government database system.

The government will be able to perform disease mapping, immunization registry programs, treatment adherence, disease transmission modeling, and other activities as a result of this. Online consultations have the potential to be extremely useful in examining the primary care patient segment. A patient can easily consult with a graduate practitioner round-the-clock from anywhere in the world using an internet-enabled smart phone and a small fee. The graduate practitioner may either refer the patient to a secondary or tertiary hospital based on the patient's situation and symptoms, or simply provide required medicine if the situation can be resolved over the phone.

By eliminating low-value patient turnover in secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities, this will simplify work and increase productivity.

The platform can be built and maintained with the help of for-profit corporate CSR funds, and mainstream media outlets can play a critical role in spreading the word about the services to the general public. The effect of this Social Model would enable the poor to access low-cost primary care services from any location.


Writer Mehdi Reja is a community health and social impact specialist currently residing in the USA and formerly worked in different reputed organizations including Grameenphone, icddr,b, USAID Projects