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Telemedicine: The Future Revolution of Healthcare

Introduction Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by a viral strain of the coronavirus. It is easily transmissible within people through air droplets from sneezing or coughing. Also, it infects organs especially the lungs by causing breathing difficulties including death. People of all age groups have been affected by the virus. Some have experienced mild symptoms while others have been severely impacted. People who have cardiovascular problems, asthma, or diabetes are more at risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus. Similarly, because of their constant exposure to sick patients, early COVID-19 detection among healthcare workers (HCWs) is crucial for protecting patients and the healthcare workforce (Lan., F, 2020). ​Covid-19 has been widespread and considered a pandemic since March 2020. Covid-19 cases have been rapidly rising since then in all parts of the United States and the world. There have been uncountable impacts on the healthcare field and other fields like unemployment. Recent findings have shown that there were severe negative impacts on the world economy. The global coronavirus pandemic immediately caused a series of convulsive economic phenomena. There was a fundamental breakdown of life’s everyday rhythms as the “world of work” was subjected to unprecedented shocks both in scale and scope (Hughes, page 3, 2020). The Covid-19 cases have also been rising in New Jersey. ​Covid-19 Impact on the Healthcare system Covid-19 has caused immense fear in the general population especially doctors and healthcare workers. Many hospitals and clinics have closed down due to the anxiety of getting this virus. Some hospitals and clinics have specific timings for patients to visit with appointments. Strict social distancing, proper sanitation, and required equipment are being considered in hospitals. However, there are still positive cases of Covid-19. Patients are also anxious about Covid-19 so they won’t step out of the house unless it is necessary. All doctors and healthcare staff are doing an incredible job during this pandemic through their service. They saved many lives during this time by wearing the personal protective kit (PPE) which consists of masks, face shields, gloves, and other equipment. It’s extremely difficult to endlessly work with the personal protective kit (PPE) since it would feel suffocating and uncomfortable especially during surgeries. Continuous sanitation needs to be done which requires more staff in the hospitals. Covid-19 tests of all doctors and healthcare staff have to be done daily. There has been a shortage of beds to accommodate patients. The death rate of doctors has also increased during this pandemic. Their families are stressed and are also vulnerable to the virus. ​At hospitals across United States, strict rules and regulations have been imposed regarding visitations with limited appointments. However, there are still in-person interactions between doctors, healthcare staff, and patients. Even though strict sanitation procedures and proper precautions are undertaken, doctors and healthcare staff are highly affected by the virus.

Telemedicine Telemedicine is providing access to healthcare virtually through the use of video conferencing platforms like Zoom or WebEx. The doctor diagnoses and provides treatment to the patient virtually. This has huge benefits for both patients and doctors. The National Health Service (NHS) has rapidly adopted telemedicine solutions as an alternative to face-to-face consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic (Elawady., K,2020).

Challenges Even though Telemedicine has significant advantages, there are still a few challenges. Availability of reliable internet access, equipment like phone/tablet are critical and it is a challenge for low-income groups. Patients need a few diagnostic tools like a thermometer, BP monitors, or trackers like Fitbit or Apple watch. We need more research demonstrating that telemedicine improves patient-centered outcomes and that it can do so efficiently — not just for individual encounters but at the population level, without leading to overuse (Khan 2015). In future vaccine may be developed and distributed for Covid patients. But it may take years before the entire population gets vaccinated and efficacy of vaccine is proved. We can overcome these challenges and promote a successful telemedicine system.

Increased Usage of Video Conferencing Platforms ​Video conferencing platforms like zoom, facetime, WebEx, and several others have been highly used in the recent pandemic for various purposes like online classes, professional meetings and converse with family, and friends. Consequently, these video conferencing platforms and health-related apps like Teledoc can be used for virtual health check-ups. Doctors can conveniently treat the patients from home itself. The benefits of these are that these apps are available for free and need not be paid for. These can be accessed through various electronic devices like smartphones, iPad, Laptops, and Computers. Video visits could be conducted by all clinicians (including medical doctors, osteopathic physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants), with growing implementation by departments or through individual adoption over time. All the patients were potentially eligible for a video visit. The most common documented reasons for video visits included skin problems (e.g., acne, rash, and dermatitis), medication management, test results, and follow-up. During this pandemic, Zoom has been used widely for communication in several ways. Online school, extracurricular activities, gatherings, professional meetings, conversations with family and friends have been through zoom for the general population in recent times. Consequently, people prefer online shopping for groceries or clothes in recent times. Besides, healthcare access ​can also be provided through zoom interaction between doctors and patients.

​The Success of Telemedicine in Korea through mindfulness During Covid-19, Korea considered telemedicine to reduce physical health impacts. Korea has a dualized medical system called Western medicine and Korean medicine (KM) and “the COVID19 telemedicine center of KM” has treated more than 20% of confirmed COVID-19 patients in Korea with telemedicine since 9 March. One encouraging factor is the use of telemedicine during the pandemic. (Kwan, K., 2020). Telemedicine is taken on a positive note because during these tough times there have been a lot of impacts. Some of these negative impacts are on people’s health, unemployment, and the economy. Consequently, people are mentally unstable due to being anxious about not stepping out of the house for groceries or healthcare checkups. Korea started the Telemedicine system mainly to address the mental health of Covid-19 patients. Through this Telemedicine approach, Doctors and healthcare workers proceeded towards this step by step by following up with the Covid-19 patients regarding their symptoms and advised on self-care. This was a mindfulness program for Covid-19 patients to bring in positivity within them.

Usage of Telemedicine A review of the literature presented in the literature survey, International Journal of Medical Informatics on usability in telemedicine systems, states that the United States had a large number of telemedicine publications in a short period of time. In the period 2013 – 2014, a total of 18 publications originated from the USA (Klaassen, B., et al., 2016). This survey has shown that there were 38 telemedicine systems in the USA with 29.9% publications from 1995-2015

Telemedicine usage across continents

In North America, the number of telemedicine publications has been increasing gradually from 1995-2015. This has been an on-going research project for a long time. During the past like between 1995-2005, only a few households had access to proper internet. Also, not everyone was able to afford electronic devices like laptops or Computers. Also, these electronic devices were not high in demand. Smartphones were not available during that time. Video conferencing platforms like zoom were unpopular. As technology has advanced over recent years, people prefer online services. Groceries are also bought through online services to save time. During this pandemic, access to healthcare being virtual is highly beneficial for the welfare of all of us

The Success of Telemedicine for less popular specialties during Covid-19 Initially, urology was a specialty in medicine that was least popular through telemedicine before Covid-19. Since the pandemic started, surgeons and doctors in this specialty preferred telemedicine as the best option. To accommodate the limited access to operative rooms, the surgical and urological communities took action: the American College of Surgeons recommended elective surgeries, and a multi-departmental group of urologists published urological surgery triage guidelines. Globally, health care systems aggressively pushed for increased usage of telemedicine, with institutions such as New York University increasing their telemedicine use by over 4000% during this time. Urologists’ perceived usability of telemedicine was assessed using a modified Delphi approach to create questions based on a modified version of the validated Telehealth Usability Questionnaire (TUQ). (Gunther, E., 2020). Conclusion Telemedicine is the best approach to provide healthcare access during the Covid-19 pandemic to flatten the curve. I recommend all hospitals to implement the telemedicine system for the betterment of Doctors, healthcare staff, and patients. References Elawady, K. (2020). Telemedicine during COVID-19: a survey of Health Care Professionals’ perceptions. Monaldi Archives for Chest Disease, 90(4). Hughes, J., Seneca, J., & Hughes, C. (2020). Coronavirus economic shocks: NJ versus the nation (p. 1 online resource (24 pages)). Lan, F. (2020). COVID-19 symptoms predictive of healthcare workers’ SARS-CoV-2 PCR results. PloS One, 15(6), e0235460–. Kwon, K. (2020). Using Mind–Body Modalities via Telemedicine during the COVID-19 Crisis: Cases in the Republic of Korea. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(12), 4477–. Telemedicine Usage Among Urologists During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Cross-Sectional Study. (2020). Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(11), e21875–e21875.

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