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Can Telemedicine Help to Achieve Global Health Equity?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines telemedicine as the delivery of healthcare, where distance is a critical factor, by all medical professionals using information and communications technology for the exchange of valid information for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the ongoing training of health care providers, all in the best interest of advancing the health of individuals and communities” is broadly referred to as telemedicine.

Telemedicine has emerged as a powerful tool in modern medicine with the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery around the world. The concept of telemedicine is not new, but it has gained renewed importance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, where access to medical care had become a major challenge for many people. Telemedicine can play a crucial role in achieving health equity by providing access to medical care to populations that are underserved or unable to access traditional medical services.

According to a Statista research report, in 2019, in India, the market size of the telemedicine industry was around 829 million USD and it will increase significantly in the coming years, reaching approximately 5.4 billion USD by 2025.

In this article, we will explore some of the ways that telemedicine could assist the globe to attain health equity.

Low-Cost Remote Patient Management

Telemedicine can be a game-changer for people who live in remote or rural areas, where medical services may be limited or not available. In many developing countries, access to medical care is a major challenge due to a lack of healthcare infrastructure and trained medical professionals. Telemedicine can help bridge this gap by providing access to medical care remotely. Patients in remote areas can consult with healthcare professionals via video conferencing, receive medical advice and guidance, and access medical care remotely. This can save time, money, and effort for patients who would otherwise have to travel long distances to access medical care.

Economically Accessible

Telemedicine can be cost-effective because it eliminates the need for in-person consultations, which can be expensive considering transportation costs and the need for specialized equipment. With telemedicine, patients can receive medical care from their homes, reducing the need for travel and minimizing the cost of medical care. Telemedicine can also reduce the cost of medical care for healthcare providers, as they can provide medical services remotely, without the need for expensive medical equipment or facilities.

Increased Access to Specialty Care

Telemedicine can help people access specialist medical care that may not be available in their local area. For example, a patient with a rare disease may not have access to a specialist in their area, but through telemedicine, they can consult with a specialist remotely. This can save time and money for patients who would otherwise have to travel long distances to access specialist medical care. Telemedicine can also provide access to specialty care for people living in underserved areas, where there may be a shortage of medical professionals.

Patient Education & Awareness

Telemedicine can be used to educate patients about their health and medical conditions. Patients can receive educational materials and videos via telemedicine platforms, enabling them to better understand their conditions and improve their self-care. Patient education is a crucial component of medical care, and telemedicine can help to improve patient outcomes by providing patients with the knowledge they need to manage their health effectively.

Health Equity & Inclusivity

Telemedicine can help to promote health equity by reducing healthcare disparities between different populations. For instance, telemedicine can help in reducing the disparities in healthcare access between rural and urban populations or between low-income and high-income populations, thereby including everyone or majority of the population under the umbrella of quality healthcare access. It can also help reduce disparities in access to medical care for people with disabilities, who may face challenges accessing traditional medical services. Additionally, it can also be used to provide medical care remotely, making it easier for people with disabilities to access medical care.

In conclusion, telemedicine has the potential to make a significant contribution to achieving health equity by providing access to medical care to populations that are underserved or unable to access traditional medical services. As the world continues to face healthcare challenges, telemedicine is poised to play an increasingly important role in providing access to medical care for all. It is essential that healthcare professionals, policymakers, and medical device professionals work together to develop and implement effective telemedicine solutions that can help to achieve health equity and improve patient outcomes.

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