Video consultations from the smartphone or through health apps, among other new channels of communication between doctor and patient, have become a form of assistance that is gaining more and more followers from both public and private medical centers and hospitals. Experts believe that with this digitization, flexibility and efficiency are gained in all specialties.
Until a few decades ago, it was quite common to receive a visit from the family doctor at home, even in emergencies. Now this only happens in dependent people or in cases of extreme severity and urgency, in case the patient is immobile due to an accident.
From the home visit of the past, in just a few years and in an unprecedented way, it has evolved to more digital and operational solutions that increase the efficiency of medical services and increase patient satisfaction.
Now, patients themselves are increasingly turning to these digital channels for certain issues such as chronic disease monitoring, emergency consultation, or requesting an evaluation from specialists such as a dermatologist, allergist, or even, a geriatrician.
One of the main factors contributing to the popularization of telemedicine in recent years is the situation caused by SARS-CoV-2. In fact, according to the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (SEMFyC), covid is an accelerated step forward in a process that was expected in the medium term and has achieved normalization among citizens. However, despite the progress and consolidation of telemedicine in many areas of healthcare, there is still a long way to go.
One area where telemedicine appears to have greater near-term reach is primary care (PC). According to SEMFyC, the National Health System (SNS) needs around 10,000 more family doctors to provide replacements for the next retirements, it is one of the oldest specialties (a large percentage of professionals aged 60 or over) and has serious replacement problems .
“The computer model that the current system of governance has led us to does not allow us to consider care that goes beyond the desk model of medicine and the bureaucratization of medical professionals when the population presents real health challenges, such as the increase in people with multiple chronic diseases and their therapeutic reconciliation or, partly as a result of the aging population aggravated by the two years of the pandemic, the increase of non-communicable diseases,” said its president Maria Fernandez.
But apart from consultations in AP, there are other areas where digitization needs to be accelerated. An example of this is the Emergency Department, which is currently under great strain due to the collapse of Primary Care.
The gradual incorporation of new technologies, as a result of the commitment to innovation, makes it easier for these types of areas, traditionally marked by a strong face-to-face presence, to migrate to a “phygital” experience, where the fusion between the physical and digital worlds becomes the key to success.
Examples of emergencies that are committed to this type of environment are university hospitals such as Infanta Elena or Niño Jesús, a center that is currently promoting a pan-European project that aims to find solutions that harmonize and improve emergency services in the event of an accident , attack, natural disaster or pandemic.
Projects like this show that there are already leading hospitals that are betting heavily on digitization and marking the way forward, as well as contributing to the acceleration of the digital transformation of the healthcare system towards a physical-digital combination.
In specialty areas, some such as Dermatology were among the first to use teleconsultations, even long before the pandemic.
In fact, leading centers such as the International Dermatology Clinic have been using teledermatology for years when it comes to making safe diagnoses of skin diseases, where the quality of the images together with the combination of clinical data allows safe and reliable assessments to be made.
Other specialties where telemedicine is applicable with a high success rate are, for example, psychiatry for monitoring patients; Hematology, in cases where remote coagulation management can be performed; even in Oncology for control and monitoring of patients treated in day hospitals.
It is becoming more and more common in pulmonology, as today there is the possibility of remote monitoring of patients with COPD. In addition, in the Cardiovascular specialty, in the follow-up of chronic patients. All this is beneficial and allows the resolution of situations, doubts and concerns not only of the patients, but also of the people who care for them.