In these times of Pandemic that the world is experiencing with COVID-19, there are many alternatives that revolve around measures adopted to avoid the spread of the virus, the use of masks, hand washing, distancing between people, together with the use of other virtual means to deal with the health issue are some of the new ways of life. Telemedicine has become an option within the world of health care, and in these times in which we live threatened by the Pandemic, it has become more useful and necessary.
Telemedicine, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the “provision of health services (in which distance is a determining factor) by health professionals through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the exchange of valid information in diagnosis, treatment, research and evaluation and for the continuous training of health professionals, all with the ultimate objective of improving the health of the population and communities”.
When did telemedicine appear?
The origin of telemedicine is linked to that of telecommunications, that is, the sending of information over long distances by means of electromagnetic signals. The first idea of telemedicine as we know it today appeared in the April 1924 issue of Radio News magazine. In it, a futuristic illustration showed a machine with a television and microphone that allowed a patient to communicate with his doctor. The apparatus also included the use of heart beat and temperature.
However, the first uses of telemedicine to transmit complex medical data, images and videos occurred in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1959, the University of Nebraska used interactive medicines to transmit neurological exams.
This technology was originally developed to connect patients living in remote areas to physicians working in urban areas. Radiology was the first medical specialty to fully embrace telemedicine, with the goal of achieving digital transmission of radiological images.
The rise of the Internet in the 1990s led to an information explosion. A true telemedicine revolution that includes patient education, transmission of medical images, real-time audio and video consultations, and vital sign measurements.
The digital transformation in the health sector has telemedicine as one of its main lines of work. Telemedicine seeks to improve the health of a patient, allowing interactive communication in real time between the patient and the doctor or health professional at a distance.
Today, telemedicine systems are very popular and their use is spreading. There are three types: remote patient monitoring, storage and dispatch technology, and interactive telemedicine.
For chronic and elderly patients, telemedicine is a breakthrough. There are patients who depend on this new tool and on others who accompany them to their medical check-ups, so it is necessary to make instruments available to them that allow having a certain autonomy.
In addition, being able to monitor their pathology by videoconference saves time for both the patient and the doctor, and a reduction in the flow of patients in the waiting rooms of hospitals and care centers primary.
Mobile applications in telemedicine
Within telemedicine, mobile applications are of great importance. Apps are computer programs designed to offer services on all types of mobile devices. The number of apps dedicated to health currently exceeds 165,000. The vast majority of these applications are dedicated to the areas of wellness, diet and exercise, and approximately 22% to disease and treatment management.
Telemedicine today represents an alternative to avoid exposure to the concentrations of people that occur in medical centers, in addition to saving costs. It also implies an improvement in health care in regions where it is difficult to reach medical attention.