Telemedicine as an idea has been around for a while. Numerous organizations have been established worldwide and in Pakistan to provide telehealth solutions to the general public. However, this idea became incredibly popular during the COVID-19 epidemic, when other healthcare options were unavailable for chronic and other ailments. From that point forward, people came to understand the value and utility of telemedicine, which stoked interest in it among the general public, investors, and medical professionals in Pakistan. As a result, the Pakistani healthcare sector has significantly transformed due to this growing interest during the past three years.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, which enables patient and doctor consultations through phone or video, has benefits for both convenience and health. The vast majority of healthcare providers currently give virtual visits a higher priority than in-person ones. In addition, technological advancements are making it easier and more accessible for people to access healthcare, even if they lack literacy. For everyone to be able to utilize them and be able to arrange an online consultation with the therapist or doctor of their choice, telemedicine organizations aim to make their applications and websites as accessible as possible using basic phrases and familiar graphics.
Since receiving or dispensing medical advice or treatment no longer requires in-person contact, telemedicine today truly benefits patients and practitioners. Telemedicine visits are also less expensive than waiting to see a doctor or other healthcare provider. It is also more convenient to plan telemedicine sessions following any required lab work or vital sign monitoring. Despite not utilizing this name, doctors have been using telemedicine for a long time. This may be the case, but due to the widespread adoption of broadband internet technology, both the cost and accessibility of audio and video calls have decreased, making them a practical alternative to the current system.
How Pakistan’s healthcare system is evolving thanks to telemedicine
Here are some ways that telemedicine is advancing Pakistan’s healthcare system:
Allowed for specialist care in far-off places
Unfortunately, Pakistan’s statistics on healthcare accessibility are subpar. In Pakistan, 50% of the population needs access to primary healthcare and specialist care. Patients in rural Pakistan can now access specialists for their care through telemedicine. The fact that Pakistani citizens can now consult with whoever suits them best rather than having to select the doctors they are familiar with is a significant advancement for the country’s healthcare system.
Decreased healthcare costs overall
Telemedicine makes use of technological and digital breakthroughs, ultimately lowering healthcare expenditures. For example, digitization can cut costs for information-intensive processes by up to 90%. Additionally, it saves significant time, allowing healthcare practitioners to focus on their primary healthcare objectives and free up resources. The cost of travel, clinic rent, and clinic upkeep has been removed from the average telemedicine appointment, making it more advantageous for Pakistani healthcare practitioners and patients.
The national increase in automation and digitalization
The national automation and digitalization of the healthcare industry were greatly facilitated by telemedicine. The demand for remote access to healthcare in Pakistan exemplifies the adage that “necessity is the mother of invention.” The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitization of healthcare, which is currently successfully used everywhere, including rural Pakistan. Both healthcare practitioners and Pakistan’s general populace learned how to use digital platforms for the provision of and access to healthcare in times of need. It is, therefore, safe to conclude that telemedicine has pushed healthcare toward better technologies.
Provided patients with comfort and convenience
The comfort and convenience it offers patients is, after greater accessibility, the second most significant element driving telemedicine’s rise and acceptance in Pakistan. Pakistani patients can now receive online consultations from the convenience of their homes thanks to telemedicine. Telemedicine patients can take advantage of all the time from their jobs or institutions. Due to this convenience, the frequency of patients skipping appointments because of work or other obligations has significantly decreased. The entire revenue for the healthcare industry increased due to the rise in the total number of consultations.
Greater employment opportunities
Pakistan is still a patriarchal society where women are expected to stay home and care for the family, particularly after marriage. Numerous women’s careers are hampered by this attitude, which wastes their skills, training, and experience. Sometimes, however, it is simply that the roles and responsibilities of being a mother overwhelm and overburden women, causing them to take a sabbatical from their full-time employment. This has nothing to do with patriarchy or gender-based roles. Such women now have flexible employment options because telemedicine in Pakistan ensures that their skills are not wasted.
Telemedicine has opened employment opportunities for married women, the elderly, the disabled, and medical professionals with chronic illnesses. By using telemedicine, doctors and healthcare workers can continue to provide their services without traveling to a healthcare facility and working flexible hours.
The people of Pakistan have access to various new employment options thanks to telemedicine. The majority of telemedicine clinics require “providers.” These companies link patients in remote areas with the appropriate doctors and specialists. An additional employee frequently needed in telemedicine is a doctor network manager or moderator. Positions like these enhance employment options for people, which can boost Pakistan’s economy and the healthcare sector.
The new industry established in Pakistan
It is thought that telemedicine is establishing a new sector in Pakistan. Telemedicine and telehealth platforms, in general, are expanding significantly, particularly in the wake of COVID-19, which raised people’s interest in seeking out virtual consultations. This brand-new labor market has and will continue to strengthen Pakistan’s economy.
Decreased vulnerability to illness
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) or nosocomially acquired illnesses are conditions that people who were not previously unwell with them develop while receiving treatment at a hospital. As a result of the large number of sick individuals who congregate in hospitals, germs can spread through sneezes, coughs, and even breath. As a result, the likelihood of contracting an illness from the hospital persists despite your best efforts. Telemedicine prevents patients and their caregivers or attendants from visiting the hospital until required, which prevents the spread of disease.
More opportunities for healthcare professionals to learn
The healthcare industry is competitive, and employees are frequently preoccupied with demanding schedules. However, because the healthcare sector is changing and Pakistan is working to improve it, professionals must set aside time for personal and professional growth. This development can be accomplished through various training courses and programs and even by earning further advanced medical degrees. But more time is needed for each of these actions. In Pakistan, telemedicine has aided doctors in reducing the time and effort spent on commuting, allowing them to use their time more effectively for continuing education and professional development.
Improved methods for chronic care
Chronic care refers to medical care that addresses pre-existing or long-term illnesses as opposed to acute care, which is concentrated on short-term or severe infections with restricted durations. Examples of chronic medical conditions include asthma, diabetes, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, hypertension, and depression. If chronic illnesses are not adequately treated, they may result in incapacity.
People sometimes disregard chronic illnesses because they require long-term treatment. The increased expense of ongoing therapies, diagnostic procedures, medical visits, and doctor appointments usually aggravates patients and caregivers. Therefore, the management of chronic diseases continues to get significant attention from patients and medical experts. In Pakistan, telemedicine has made it simpler for patients to get the required care. A patient’s health can only improve if they visit their doctor frequently. Without seeing the doctor every month, telemedicine can effectively manage a variety of illnesses, including heart issues, diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions.