In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, commonly known as the coronavirus outbreak, public health professionals and government authorities have advised people to exercise social distancing to slow down the spread of the virus and consequently save lives. But a lot of people are now wondering how they can access medical services when social distancing. The solution to this dilemma is telemedicine.
Telemedicine can be understood as the process of getting the services of a doctor remotely via the phone, text messages, or even video calls. According to Dr. Rahul Sharma, telemedicine offers an excellent opportunity for healthcare providers to do their part in helping the public minimize the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. For instance, with telemedicine, people with compromised immune systems, and those in quarantine can get the attention of a doctor without leaving their homes.
It is, therefore, not a surprise that several healthcare providers have reported a tremendous increase in the number of tele-visits in the last few weeks. For instance, compared to the previous six months, Multicare, the state of Washington’s leading community-based health system, has reported a 1300 percent increase in average daily tele-visits this month.
According to Dr. Finkelston, most visits have been about upper respiratory issues such as sinusitis, common cold, coughs, and fever. In other words, most patients who have been seeking medical attention through telemedicine in the recent past have symptoms similar to those that are associated with COVID-19.
But how reliable is telemedicine? Dr. Finkelston notes that teledoctors rely on a patient’s history to diagnose about 80 percent of the cases that they come across. Besides, teledoctors have the necessary experience and lots of medical tricks to understand their patient’s problems without necessarily having to see them in person. For instance, although it is not possible for them to remotely listen to a patient’s lungs, they can examine their respiratory patterns or even get them to take their heart rates. This can be quite helpful in ensuring that doctors get adequate patient information for them to offer the most appropriate medical advice.