The term telemedicine as accepted by World Health Organization is, “The delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities”
Pakistan is a populous country with major rural urban disparity in delivery of healthcare services. Even though major portion of Pakistan’s population is deep in the villages and small towns, but the medical services in those areas are far from sufficient. In Pakistan, about 70 percent of the population is living in rural setups, and most of them have insufficient basic healthcare facilities, which have led an outburst in the mortality rate. Even for basic checkup people from such areas have to go to a bigger hospital, which is miles away from their village. They face several problems travelling to hospital from their respective towns, which include heavy transportation cost due to lack of public transportation etc. Due to patient overloading, the hospitals are in extremely bad condition, which makes their lives more difficult.
The telecommunication industry in Pakistan is undergoing a rapid development, because of which the communication connectivity all over the country has improved remarkably. Many developing countries have started to realize the importance of E-Health/Telemedicine and are pioneering the implementation of telemedicine projects. E-Health/Telemedicine projects in developing countries offer an opportunity for people living in underserved and rural areas to obtain improved healthcare services. Pakistan is also catching up with the world by using the mixture of best healthcare practices and technology to make the basic healthcare facilities available for every citizen of the country.
In most cases, telemedicine is a net benefit. It expands access to quality patient care, especially to regions and underserved populations that need it the most. It provides a way to cut down on healthcare spending with the help of innovative technology. The potential of Telemedicine to change the healthcare delivery model for the better; doubled down on primary care to reap large savings in secondary and tertiary care. One of the most significant usage of telemedicine is to provide timely specialized medical assistance to people living in far flung, rural areas. Telemedicine has great potential to expand access and improve the quality of rural healthcare with its major implications on urban areas as well. It can reduce burdens for patients on bigger hospitals, and improve monitoring, timeliness, and communications within the healthcare ecosystem.
INFOGISTIC Pvt. Ltd have also initiated one of the first online telemedicine hub in Pakistan under the name of CloudClinik E-BHU Program.. This telemedicine hub is connected to Basic Health Units (BHU) located in far flung areas of Punjab.E-BHU initiative helps to address patients urgently and boost the neglected primary health care department with its services based on international best practices. With the help of continuous research and development and multiple pilot projects, it was identified that the gap in the healthcare sector can only be filled with technology that can bring the doctor to patient’s doorstep.
CloudClinik E-BHU telemedicine platform is aimed at improving access to primary healthcare. It helps in connecting patients from rural areas with the general physicians in the urban centers/telemedicine hub for provision of diagnosis and healthcare, avoiding the need for patients travel to the hospitals.
CloudClinik E-BHU empowers community based health providers and the patients to manage health in their home environments. The initiation of this platform has helped many people in getting satisfactory and valuable healthcare facilities within their villages and hometowns.
CloudClinik E-BHU is breaking barriers through live consultation. No matters where you live or what your doctor’s geographical location is. You can and get an online consultation by a doctor located at a different location. This application considers every patient a part of their family, their extremely sensitive personal health information is saved within the system according to international standards and best practices.
It endows everyone to make one-step forward and save the humanity. This technology does not have any boundaries and it does have the potential to improve accessibility of healthcare. This project has been initiated keeping in mind the aim to reshape the healthcare ecosystem and helping female doctors who could not pursue their practice, by this they can connect and serve millions of patients and add value to the complete healthcare ecosystem. CloudClinik Telemedicine Platform is the main connection between the patients and the doctors, which provides accessibility to patients.
Instead of waiting days or weeks for a healthcare professional to travel to a remote area, or traveling into a bigger hospital and waiting for an appointment, telemedicine enables remote physician consultations that are faster, cost effective and more efficient than traditional healthcare practices. For consultations on basic health concerns, or follow up on existing conditions, remote consultations can dramatically improve the patient experience while helping rural hospital/basic health unit’s economics at the same time.
The local technicians and nurses can deal effectively with patients compared to the outsiders since they are familiar with the social dynamics and can speak the local languages of the area. After bringing these technicians and nurses on-board, the team arranges their trainings for basic technology skills, provides necessary equipment and medicine. The clinics are set up with a laptop tuned for video consultation and doctor is assigned with the help of technology platform who provides remote check-ups to patients. Furthermore, all clinics provide tertiary care referral as well.
Patients and their families review regarding E-BHU and Telemedicine system;
“The simple diseases that were not treated before can now be treated,” he said.
“We basically have very poor people,” she said. “They don’t have money for their bread and butter. They are living in remote areas.”
The telemedicine system gives them access to care without traveling and incurring big costs.
“They can stay with their families, in their own environment,” she said. “They don’t have to spend a lot of money. Consulting the doctors regarding everything helped us be aware of different diseases.”
Reviews like that are a powerful incentive for change. They will no doubt motivate many healthcare innovators to expand access to quality healthcare, enabling patients to enjoy good health at their doorsteps. In future telemedicine is predicted to grow and provide healthcare facilities to areas of Pakistan that are still deprived of them. If you are looking for a starting point, start here. Telemedicine is the Furture of Healthcare.
Contributed by: Dr. Summan Ejaz, MBBS, GP Telemed