This is the third of a series of articles related to health-tech and how important it is. This was made with a partnership with Minerva we worked on the“Buenos Aires Civic Challenge” to answer the question: How important is a good UX to improve healthcare services in developing countries? The deliverables were several articles tackling different topics. Here is the third one of them.
The coronavirus pandemic has imposed severe challenges on the healthcare systems all around the world. Increased traffic of infected individuals into the hospital reception has challenged the working capacity of the staff and increased the risk of transmitting the infection to those who visit the hospital for other reasons, such as ambulatory and inpatient services for chronic disease care.
In addition to the increased risks, it is worth noting that countries with the highest fraction of chronic disease patients have an additional challenge to face. According to the Inter American Development Bank, Chronic and non-communicable diseases are the main cause of death in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Argentina, 10% of the adult population suffers from diabetes, 33% has high cholesterol, and a similar fraction has hypertension.
On top of that, 32% of Argentina’s population lives in poverty and has been unable to access sophisticated healthcare services even before the pandemic. Increased risk of the need for hospitalization with a chronic disease in addition to the virus imposes additional health and financial challenge for a large fraction of the local population.
In such a medical and economic context, the country can effectively implement telemedicine to make the health and financial benefits accessible to chronic disease patients across Argentina.
Chronic disease patients have a need to see a primary care physician on a regular basis. In the challenging time, this makes it even more difficult for these patients to receive the volume and quality of medical care they require.
Telemedicine enables hospital staff members to have quick and easy access to chronic disease patients’ medical records and their progress over time. Digital tools in telemedicine also enable chronic disease patients to access qualified doctors with relevant knowledge and experience regardless of the distance. This is an especially important benefit of telemedicine as chronic disease patients may face a number of constraints, such as the timing issue, inconvenience of commutation, and the mental barriers associated with leaving home in a vulnerable condition.
Timely intervention is crucial in chronic disease management as it decreases the probability of critical situations occurring and provides increased convenience for the patient. However, time efficiency of chronic disease care can be interrupted with the increased number of covid-patients, not to mention the overcrowded facilities in smaller hospitals for ambulatory care patients.
According to Global Health Intelligence 83% of Argentina’s hospitals have less than 50 beds and, on average, accommodate 94% of the patients with ambulatory admission. Telemedicine reduces the need of patients’ physical need to visit the hospital, which eventually reflects positively on the saturation of the smaller hospitals that play a crucial role in decreasing the distance between the urgent care patient and their doctors.
In addition to the above advantages, telemedicine can significantly reduce the cost of healthcare for chronic disease patients. On our next article, we will talk more about details on how better health and economic outcomes can be achieved through Telemedicine.