Telemedicine will not replace traditional medical checkups


MANILA – Hospitals across the country now employ telemedicine services in treating patients with various ailments other than Covid-19 infections.

Telemedicine services involve medical consultations with doctors or physicians over the phone, short messaging services (SMS), chat and other audio-visual or online platforms. It was already in practice in the past but it became particularly helpful ang gained undue currency when the government declared widescale enhanced community quarantines (ECQ) last March.

Healthcare providers who conduct these consultations are allowed to issue electronic case reports and prescriptions

During the lockdowns, movements were limited, and clinics and outpatient facilities were closed temporarily so  medical consultation can only be done conveniently via  telemedicine.

Even after quarantine restrictions were eased, however, patients were hesitant to visit clinics and hospitals for fear of contracting the virus.

As one doctor puts it, “visiting hospitals has become a  double-edged sword. You want to get checked but you’ll be risking the exposure.” The practice has thus continued and intensified.

Medical authorities have also taken extra precautions to protect patients and laid out screening protocols for people walking through hospital doors and corridors. They have also designated Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 areas in hospitals. They likewise required healthcare workers to use personal protective equipment (PPE) based on their risk profiles and settings.

Even as telemedicine offers increased access to healthcare during the obtaining at the time of pandemic, both doctors and astute behavioral experts agee it has limitations and potential risks and it cannot replace traditional personal medical consultations and check up.

Doctors admit the lack of personal interaction with their patients can limit their discernment of patients’conditions which can curtail their ability to accurately assess their patient’s health status.

Saud one physician: “Doctors needs to come in contact with his patient to be able to get his vital signs and listen to their heartbeat rate. Moreover, some patients are unable to describe how they feel and others even lie on their way to obtain a medical certificate.”

Despite its convenient use and benefits, however, telemedicine services should only be availed of as a supplement and not replacement to traditional personal consultations.

Doctors also advocate that telemedicine be taught in more medical schools, along with the importance of knowing its legal implications and ramifications.

It is projected that face to face medical consultations will resume in clinic when an effective vaccine against Covid-19 is finally developed, made available globally, and the pandemic is gone.

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