With the increase in destructive unnatural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and forest fires, communities need to be more prepared for the aftermath with affordable healthcare. Telehealth is a real-time solution that facilitates the provision of healthcare using internet and intranet technologies.
Despite being an inexact science, telehealth still has components that offer robust solutions. The government plans to expand broadband, healthcare, and telehealth, making it the opportune time to develop telehealth and broadband-driven disaster recovery strategies.
Typically, natural disasters have three phases:
- Unpredictable initial impact
- Immediate aftershocks
Telehealth can impact these natural disaster phases in the following ways:
Creating emergency health centers
Often, natural disasters can cause a power outage for a week or more. Advisably, before a disaster, various buildings need to be designated as telehealth and generator zones. The required equipment and telehealth kiosks would be ready for any recovery phase. These would be useful for people without access to power, the internet, or destroyed homes.
Expanding first responder’s reach
In the face of a disaster, first responders tend to receive a considerable share of immediate medical responses. They are equipped to reach out to clinics and hospitals to manage injuries. Paramedic vehicles need to be wirelessly enabled to facilitate patient treatment while heading to the hospital. The cars also need to be fitted with telemedicine tools to expand medical capabilities and healthcare to underserved and unreachable populations.
A broadband foundation
Natural disasters can destroy homes and buildings, making telehealth challenging to access. A community’s broadband network significantly impacts the technology’s ability to get through a disaster and quickly get back online. The broadband network needs to be designed to have less downtime even during a disaster. Telehealth stakeholders need to work with communities and cities to set up broadband that facilitates telehealth and disaster response.
In a nutshell, when properly implemented, telehealth can revolutionize how we prepare for and recover from disasters. It will help reduce mortality rates and improve access to general healthcare.