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How Telemedicine Is Helping Communities Combat Coronavirus

How Telemedicine Is Helping Communities Combat Coronavirus main image

Sponsored by Universidad Autónoma de Chile

As coronavirus spread across the world, demand for telemedicine surged as access to healthcare services became more restricted and was reserved only for the most critical patients.

Telemedicine and telehealth services allow healthcare professionals to deliver care and treatment remotely to patients by communicating in real-time via video or telephone.

While healthcare professionals and patients are having to learn to embrace the technology, adoption of these new digital tools can help streamline and improve patient care and services. 

A recent article by Forbes highlighted how telehealth consultations are around 20 percent shorter than traditional in-person appointments, allowing healthcare providers to see even more patients than they would with in-person visits.

A crucial alternative for patient care

At the Universidad Autónoma de Chile, the Medical School’s Medical Specialties Unit is working to support the region’s health sector by assisting patients diagnosed with COVID-19 via telemedicine services, including telephone calls.

It is a joint initiative between the university and the Regional Ministerial Secretariat (Seremi) of Health in order to support the local community. Within two weeks, 10 doctors who are studying family medicine have provided assistance to over 140 patients in the Maule region.

“The intention of the Universidad Autónoma de Chile is always to be supporting the community,” said Dr Hernando Durán, Director of the Medical Specialties Unit of the Universidad Autónoma de Chile.

“We have a lot of work regarding market relations, and one way in which we want to contribute is with the doctors who are doing their specialty training in our institution, with the aim, first, to contact patients with COVID-19 diagnosis to give them guidance and some indications necessary for their care.

“From there comes the idea of doing this process through telemedicine, a system that is validated by FONASA and that we are doing for free, coordinating with the Regional Ministerial Secretariat (Seremi) of Health,” said Dr Durán.

Dr Durán went on to explain that the initiative has also been set up to care for those who have been discharged from hospital after recovering from COVID-19 and have finished their quarantine period.

“We have two groups of patients that we are assisting through calls and telemedicine,” he said.

“One is a group of people who are ready to be discharged, who are being assessed for their condition and symptoms, and given guidance on how to return to their activities or if they require new medical care.

“The second group are patients who have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, with whom we are doing, in a first contact, a conversation work, information to solve doubts and fears, and a medical and psychological accompaniment, for in a second contact, after the seventh day since the symptoms started, to be able to evaluate their evolution, since we have seen that after that period is when people can get complicated and require a referral to a hospital service.

“The idea is that we can generate the warning signs to inform that much more timely assistance is needed,” explained Dr Durán.

At the same time, doctors who are in training in family medicine are able to able to put patients at ease with their empathetic nature and good bedside manner.

“We have seen that patients who have used the telemedicine services have been quite satisfied and have been able to resolve the doubts they have, especially medical doubts which can be answered by professionals with more than a year of specialty training and with a much more detailed and updated knowledge of everything that is being experienced,” said Dr Durán.

Dr Natalia Fuentes is a third year resident in the specialty of Family Medicine and is part of the on-going care team. She agrees and said: “As a doctor in training in the specialty, months after finishing my residency in Family Medicine, I have felt totally satisfied and really professionally fulfilled by doing this epidemiological monitoring.

“Telemedicine is a tool that, when used well by trained people it can have a great impact on the population as we can explain simple elements such as what to expect from the disease which reduces the patient’s anxiety considerably, and it also allows research into patients whose health is deteriorating, generating links with emergency units so that they receive timely attention.

“It’s extremely enriching to note that patients benefit from our calls and all the recommendations we offer them in a holistic manner,” said Fuentes.

The Universidad Autónoma de Chile is also carrying out similar remote assistance actions in psychology and law which benefits both the academic community and general population, all of which have arisen within the framework of the COVID Committee that is operating within the university.

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Written by Stephanie Lukins
As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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1 Comment

Good idea. This helps to prevent the community spread of the corona virus. The patient just need to be honest as well about their health since they were not checked physically.