Telemedicine: Evolution from the beginning of the pandemic to the present day

How Telemedicine changed

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Throughout history, every major health crisis has impacted the global health system and created certain changes in the ways things work. Today, the Covid 19 pandemic is also changing the world of medicine and health care. Telemedicine has been present for some time now. However, with the current global pandemic, there was a steady increase in its usage. The evolution of telemedicine from the beginning of the pandemic to the present day is visible. In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the major steps in telemedicine evolution.

The initial response

For starters, let us take a look at the initial implementation during the global pandemic of 2020. Large-scale deployment of telemedicine as a substitute for in-person care throughout the world has been implemented at the start of the pandemic. The response was initially quite good but had a few problems mainly due to the overall panic and the sheer number of people checking in. However, the first stages of telemedicine proved to be a success. There were initially three main objectives for the implementation of telemedicine:

  • Taking care of a large number of patients checking in with the Covid symptoms online.

  • Proceeding with the care of regular patients.

  • Protecting doctors and patients from the infection.

Practically all three objectives were achieved during the initial response. However, as mentioned above, not without a few problems. For example, the very first implementation was a bit robust and lacked the flawlessness of real-life patient and doctor communication in certain parts of the world. Furthermore, some people refused to believe in the effectiveness of telemedicine at first. After the first few weeks and months of the pandemic, more and more people saw the real benefits of telemedicine. The biggest one being no risk of infection.

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The steady increase in usage

Throughout 2020, telemedicine saw an increased usage throughout the World. Furthermore, doctors and patients were seeing the potential of telemedicine outside its primary role of combating the infection. This means that although at first implemented as a stop-gap response to the pandemic,telemedicine has now proved to be more than capable of providing the patient-doctor communication at an efficient and effective level. This proved vital as telemedicine providers realized the main issues and started working on them right away. Initially, this was mainly directed to combating the communication difficulties and implementation problems. However, this increased to making sure telemedicine is more than capable of providing a detailed analysis of a patient's health problems. Therefore, the next step in the evolution of telemedicine was the more efficient implementation of patient diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, and follow-up.

More than just an emergency fix

A year into the global pandemic, telemedicine saw an increase in usage. As it was initially thought of and regarded as only an emergency fix, telemedicine evolved into something more. The pace of telemedicine evolution was phenomenal and truly provided a similar experience to in-person treatment. Overall, the majority of patients were pleased with ready access, convenience, and infection risk avoidance. However, is it safe to say that telemedicine and its evolution can be compared with physicians no longer visiting their patients at home as it was in the old days? Well, the process of telemedicine evolution is there but it is not instant. At this point, it is pure speculation as to whether telemedicine will continue to grow at this rapid pace. The main point is that the potential is there and visible in the process of combating the pandemic. We can definitely anticipate the wider use of telemedicine.

The steady expansion to other uses

Telemedicine provides a unique ability for patients and doctors to communicate in a way in which it was never done before. Both audio and video conferences are available through telemedicine. Some countries focused only on the audio aspects of telemedicine as the main means of communication. However, doctors quickly realized the lack of ability to detect subtle signs and symptoms in patients that can only be detected when seen. Telemedicine is now in the process of perfecting both video and audio means of communication. This is because both the patient and the doctor need to get a clear image and clear audio so that there can be no misinterpretation. So far, the process of evolving audio and video conferences has been quite good, and very few problems remain and are usually due to the network connections. The most important takeaway is that there is real, the existing body of empirical knowledge that attests to the merit of telemedicine and its uses. Interventions in preventive and primary care, chronic disease management, diagnostic services, mental health, and several other health applications are already being managed by telemedicine in certain parts of the world.

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Conclusion

To sum up, the main transition from in-person care to telemedicine occurred during the first stages of the global pandemic of 2020. It was initially implemented only as means of lowering the number of check-ins in hospitals, ERs, etc. However, the clinicians who experienced the use of telemedicine first hand were almost all quite positive towards it. The potential and the steady evolution of telemedicine are visible and constantly growing. These technologies and overall, telemedicine are there to increase the abilities of clinicians and provide easy means of assessing the patients and treating them properly. Telemedicine is there to enhance these abilities and not limit them as we can see throghout the slow but steady expension of its use in the world. Finally, the important thing is to not only base the effectiveness of telemedicine on its initial use during the pandemic but further data that proved its effectiveness in changing the health care system and providing a new generational shift that benefits both doctors and patients.

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