Telehealth solutions will make us witness a healthier and a happier world in near future, says Shipra Dawar, Founder and CEO, ePsyClinic
Today technology touches every aspect of our lives. Talking about healthcare, access to quality healthcare services is extremely expensive and forget quality, basic healthcare services are still largely unavailable to a majority of people around the world. Government and other organisations spend enormous amount of tax-payers money on making healthcare service available, yet the reach and supply of these services to remotest areas of the world is still a dream. Even in metros and top cities around the world, healthcare services are limited, extremely expensive and beyond reach for most people.
Internet and IT provide ground- breaking solution to such issues. Providers from around the world can be brought on platforms and their consultation and treatment services can reach the remotest places and at any time. Technology also makes it possible to regularly track and monitor, an individual’s health thus enabling better treatment and prevention of many diseases and health issues.
Technology does not only make healthcare accessible, but also affordable as the cost of training, relocating the providers is enormous in comparison to the cost of infrastructure set up for making their services reach the remotest zones, aided by technology.
Since 2009, when the telehealth concept and services rolled out commercially, the technology start-ups and IT companies have worked hard to develop a system that is easy to use for both clients and providers, anywhere accessible and is based truly helpful and powerful health data. Experts in the fi eld of medicine worldwide believe that 70 per cent of the normal healthcare issues can be handled remotely or virtually, and in question of behavioural and psychological healthcare delivery, this percentage is even higher. Realising this, companies like IBM, Google and other companies are now putting in big bucks and their resources to develop technology frameworks and systems focused on healthcare quality and delivery.
From big players like IBM to start- ups like ePsyClinic, fi rms are working broadly on connecting providers with clients or patients on virtual platforms and providing better communication tools between the two, enabling real-time communication between the provider and the client in between consultations, and automating many assessments and evaluation. All this together can help delivering more accurate service to people and area where it is inaccessible or unaffordable.
Telehealth technology has great advantage for providers and people suffering for very less to lesser serious health or behavioural problems, and in near future there is possibility that 80 per cent of such consultations would happens over virtual platforms only. It’s also very easy to reach out to clients, demonstrate and educate them with the use of technology. The highs of telehealth services are access, reduced costs and comfort for clients, and wider reach, network and ease for providers will create ever growing opportunities here.
Consultations moving to virtual platform also free up land, staff and other resources at hospitals and clinics for tackling with more serious conditions or inpatients. This is a huge but often underestimated benefi t of telemedicine.
A big challenge is that the players must ensure that their services are designed to deliver quality healthcare consistently and at all times. Another ethical principle that should be guiding the telehealth industry players; is to know exactly when there is the need for transition of the client from a virtual platform to a traditional physical healthcare platform. Internet connectivity issues also pose a challenge for telehealth systems but with the advances in technology will be looked after.
Summing up, new age information and communication technology has the power to solve the world’s most pressing problem of increasing reach of quality healthcare to the remotest parts of the world along with revolutionising and enabling preventive and positive health outcome driven delivery. If done right, telehealth solutions will make us witness and see a healthier and a happier world in near future.