Mostly we ask the smart people around us 3 questions and showcase their answers here. This time, we do it a little bit different. Cause when we asked Alexander Heinze, Urologist specialized in minimal invasive treatment and robot assisted surgery for treatment of oncological diseases, about the future of medical care he came up with a complete article. THANKS!
I constantly hear from my patients the interest to continue their recovery at home as soon as possible. The reasons are multiple, but they stress the need to continue with their daily tasks, to be with their loved ones and of course to stop eating the insipid food they receive during their stay at the clinics.
At the end of the 90´s, e-Medicine took a notorious strength by offering the possibility of providing health services at a distance through the use of telecommunications and virtual technology, outside of traditional centers of attention.
Benefits of e-Medicine
Today’s health systems are constantly seeking new ways to provide the best medical care to patients at the lowest possible cost. E-Medicine could represent a very attractive solution especially for patients who live in remote places, with long journeys from their rural communities, or in small populations that lack of specialized doctors.
For institutions, e-medicine would mean a significant reduction in hospital occupancy and the possibility of maximizing their human resources. On the other hand, the patient would have the guarantee of having quality care without incurring onerous expenses in transfers. The only requirement is that patients have an intelligent device with internet access.
From the outside, these modern “hospitals” would seem to be a common place of work for doctors and nurses, but when they enter, the total absence of patients will attract attention. In fact, it is a specialized center where the information gathered in an automatic and systematized way from each one of the affiliated patients is received continuously. The facilities include consulting rooms and meeting rooms with multimedia equipment to give consultations or discuss cases among a group of specialists. They also have spaces equipped for the close monitoring of delicate patients and an area specialized in remote emergency care.
The e-medicine centers offer their patients the possibility of having at all times a large number of specialists from the different branches of medicine through a digital communication channel. In such a way that the patient can carry out his or her usual follow-up with an assigned treating doctor, but also has the possibility of receiving inter consultations for matters related to other fields, specialized and immediate advice in case of emergency.
Multiple companies in the medical industry have developed devices with different applications so we now have a wide range of alternatives to monitor our patients without being in a hospital environment.
Devices that remind patients of taking medications, the need for daily physical activity, starting a guided exercise routine as part of a rehabilitation program or simply turning on their tablet for the next appointment with the specialist are some of the basic applications.
More specialized tools allow frequent measurements of blood pressure or glucose (sugar) in blood and transmit the results in real time to health care providers. For those patients with a high risk of falling down, there are deceleration detectors capable of immediately notifying family members or persons of confidence in case of a probable accident.
Finally, it is possible to use advanced cardiac or pulmonary monitoring equipment that constantly censuses the activity of the individual and vital parameters. These data are received remotely by the health centers who monitor the patient’s recovery. Intelligent systems also use algorithms that trigger alerts to clinical and/or biochemical conditions that could put the patient’s integrity at risk.
Multiple results have been published where e-medicine in particular, chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, renal insufficiency or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have been monitored. Telemedicine has also been used successfully in the follow-up of post-operative patients in order to timely detect an infection or abnormal wound healing.
In 2006, the first hospital fully dedicated to telemedicine (Mercy Hospital) was founded. This complex clinic offers a wide variety of health services ranging from remote monitoring of daily activities to close care of patients with complex conditions that require continuous care.
It appears that the model is successful and highlights a constant interaction of patients, highly qualified medical and non-medical personnel along with the technological tools to develop strategies that aim to prevent, detect or treat any eventuality in a timely manner.
It seems that the increase in technical capacities, greater access to intelligent devices by the population and the reduction in the cost of these communication services would create a propitious scenario for encouraging the adoption of e-medicine
Furthermore, telemedicine could offer real solutions to the health problems currently faced in different parts of the world, such as lack of infrastructure, need for specialized doctors in rural communities and over-saturation of health services with a limited public health budget.
What do you think?
Is Telemedicine, in your opinion, a possibility to offer patients quality medical care, provided by specialists and without the need to leave the comfort of their own home? We are undecided. The majority of our colleagues feels like the emotional component will be missing, but some also recall lively the last time they wasted time in a doctor’s waiting room and are therefore eager to start e-medicine tomorrow.