The video consultation from the smartphone or through health apps, among other new channels of communication between doctor and patient, have become a form of assistance that is gaining more and more followers by both public and private medical centers and hospitals . Experts consider that with this digitization, agility and efficiency are being gained in all specialties.
Until a few decades ago it was quite common to receive a visit from the family doctor at home, also in an emergency. Now, this only happens with dependent people or in cases of extreme gravity and urgency in case the patient is not mobile due to an incident.
From the home visit of the past, it has evolved, in just a few years and in an unprecedented way, towards more digital and operational solutions that increase the efficiency of medical services and increase patient satisfaction.
Now it is the patients themselves who resort more and more frequently to these digital channels for certain issues such as the monitoring of chronic diseases, the consultation in an emergency or requesting an assessment by specialists such as the dermatologist, the allergist or, even , the geriatrician.
One of the main factors that has contributed to promoting telemedicine in recent years has been the situation caused by SARS-CoV-2. In fact, according to the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (SEMFyC), covid has been an accelerated step forward in a process that was expected in the medium term and has achieved its normalization among citizens. However, despite the progress and consolidation of telemedicine in many areas of health, there is still a long way to go.
One of the areas in which telemedicine seems to have more scope in the short term is Primary Care (PC). According to the SEMFyC, the National Health System (SNS) needs around 10,000 more family doctors to ensure replacement for the next retirements, it is one of the oldest specialties (large percentage of professionals with 60 years or more ) and that has serious replacement problems.
“The PC model to which the current management system has led us does not allow us to consider care that goes beyond a model of desk medicine and bureaucratization of medical professionals, when the population presents real health challenges such as the increase of people with multiple chronic diseases and their therapeutic conciliation or, partly as a result of population aging aggravated by the two years of the pandemic, the increase in non-communicable diseases,” said its president, María Fernández.
But, in addition to the consultations in the AP, there are other areas where digitization must be accelerated. An example of this is the Emergency Department, currently under high pressure due to the collapse of Primary Care.
The gradual incorporation of new technologies, as a result of the commitment to innovation, is making it easier for this type of area, traditionally marked by a strong face-to-face presence, to migrate towards a ‘phygital’ experience, where the fusion between the physical and digital worlds is becomes the key to success.
Examples of emergencies that are committed to this type of environment are university hospitals such as Infanta Elena or Niño Jesús, a center that is currently promoting a pan-European project that aims to land solutions that harmonize and improve emergency services in the event of an accident, attack , natural disaster or pandemic.
Projects like this show that there are already leading hospitals that are betting heavily on digitization and are marking the way forward, as well as contributing to the acceleration of the digital transformation of the health system towards a physical-digital mix.
In the field of specialties, some such as Dermatology were among the first to use teleconsultation, even long before the pandemic.
In fact, leading centers such as the International Dermatology Clinic have been using Teledermatology for years when it comes to making safe diagnoses of skin diseases, where the quality of the photographs together with the combination of clinical data allows safe evaluations to be carried out and reliable.
Other specialties where telemedicine is applicable with high success rates are, for example, Psychiatry to monitor patients; Hematology, in cases in which coagulation remote control can be carried out; even in Oncology for the control and monitoring of patients treated in day hospitals.
It is also becoming more and more common in Pulmonology, since today it is possible to control COPD patients remotely. In addition, in the Cardiovascular specialty when monitoring chronic patients. All this benefits and allows to resolve situations, doubts and concerns, not only of patients, but also of their caregivers.