Telehealth, the Latest Tool in the Medicine Bag

2020 has been quite a different year, less people walking on the streets, getting used to seeing each other wearing masks, and finding ourselves using the hand sanitiser a lot more frequently. In order to slow down the spread of coronavirus, social distance rules are applied strictly in not just NSW, but all over Australia. At this point, fear of catching this new pandemic outweighs seeking out help for other personal health concerns. To sort that out, telehealth as a new type of medical tool has seen a rapid expansion since March 2020.

In the current situation, some practices found doctors seeing fewer patients and suspecting people were avoiding going to the doctors as they are afraid of exposing themselves to the virus. Telehealth, generally refers to the use of telecommunications and information technology to facilitate remote “clinical medical services”. The major goal is to remove barriers to distance and improve the accessibility to health services for patients, particularly in remote areas, and it is often used in emergency and extreme conditions. With that being said, telehealth also covers disease prevention, healthy lifestyle promotion and better treatment.

“Telehealth lets patients access their doctors from home over the phone, and the internet,” says Dr. Charlotte, the director from NSW/ACT RACGP, “it is a time save for everybody and it is going safer because you don’t need to go to the hospital, sitting for follow up.” Through telehealth, the lifestyle of both doctors and patients is changed, different from the traditional checkup, people are able to follow up and explain their health concern over telephone, which makes them more comfortable.

According to Professor Sally Inglis, the Associate professor of UTS, many consults only need conversation, instead of physical check-up, it is not necessary to go to the doctors every time when they need to consult. “We are fortunate that we are now staying in Sydney because we have those services,” says Professor Inglis. Another benefit of utilising telehealth is its simply convenience. There are few different ways to achieve telehealth remotely, that includes not only phone call, but also can consult over videos like Zoom, Skype, etc. It provides us with variety conveniences to consult, you don’t need to sit in the waiting room for decades, and you can see your doctor as the time you booked.

One of the concerns that occurred by Professor Sally Inglis, which is the violation of privacy when everything now goes virtual; however, Dr Charlotte considered that telehealth is safer for both doctors and patients. Both Professor Inglis and Dr Charlotte supports positively telehealth expanding and promoting, looking at the future blueprint. “it’s important that we have thought about how to utilise telehealth effectively, as one part of our sustainable, and long-term health care system,” Prof Sally comments on telehealth positively.

As now we are in a digital age, it is delightful to see new technologies are utilised significantly in medical field, and it is positive to see that telehealth is expanding under this hard circumference. By learning more about telehealth, it is easy to see that the demand for integration of internet medical service resources is increasing gradually, and the increasing number of home telehealth monitoring.

For more from Dr. Charlotte Hespe and Prof. Sally Inglis, listen back to the podcast.

Monday 31st of August, 2020

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