Bridging the gap: Health through technology

050117-N-5362F-520

Alfred Sayah, Master of Provincial Health with the United Nations (UN) World Health Organization (WHO), distributes food to Indonesian children as he conducts a survey about the condition of local inhabitants and relief supplies needed in the village of Gunung Meunasah and surrounding villages on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. (United Nations Brussels)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Afrida khanam, a final year MBBS student at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

As mankind has entered an era of easily accessible long distance communication, people worldwide have begun availing this opportunity in almost every field, including medicine. Consultations over phone and the internet have slowly gained popularity in a world too busy to prioritize healthcare over convenience. However, whether such practices are actually effective or not, is a matter of debate.

Communication over distance– from town to town, or even international- has a clear advantage of requiring less time & effort than a meeting in person. Since consulting over phone is often quicker & easier than attending a physician’s office, it has become a useful option in case of minor ailments. Many choose to ask for medical advice over phone before considering going to a hospital for complaints like a mild fever.

It can indeed be helpful in cases of emergency, or in areas where medical assistance is not readily available. Although within a limited scope, it may allow for critical interventions to be taken, and may lessen complications. With remote consultation, individual referral needs may be identified more quickly. The opportunity of receiving advice from distant specialized facilities can help in taking informed decisions regarding the course of treatment.

Regardless of the potential, the practical benefits depend on the usage. For example, in Bangladesh the estimated majority of medical consultations through network provided value added services are due to symptoms of common cold and indigestion. The availability of such services there has helped modulate the workload in hospitals & alleviate unnecessary anxiety of the patients, while encouraging the patients to receive advice from qualified medical personnel and avoid indiscriminate use of medicines. Acknowledgement of this effect was important in the establishment of telemedicine services by the government of Bangladesh.

While there are certain benefits, the risks of remote consultation are not negligible. Attempting to treat symptoms without direct observation runs a high risk of improper or incomplete diagnosis. Without direct contact, not only is proper examination virtually impossible, but the process of history-taking is also likely to be affected due to limitations of long distance communication.

Moreover, the comfort of receiving symptomatic advice may sometimes give the patients a false sense of assurance and temporary relief, which may lead to them delaying a necessary in-person consultation. This delay may cause significant harm in case of time-critical diseases, especially those likely to be misdiagnosed over a distance. For example, a lady with a breast lump, having received a diagnosis of benign disease over phone, may delay further evaluation fearing unnecessary embarrassment, and that delay may prove to be the distance between a pre-malignant disease and cancer.

In conclusion it can be said that, despite having a number of benefits, the graveness of the risks should certainly be kept in mind. Hence it is better to recommend the option of remote medical consultation to be regarded not as a substitute, rather as an adjunct to conventional healthcare, so as to ensure appropriate and effective usage within acceptable standards.

About the author

Ms Afrida khanam is a final year MBBS student at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Eating less beef and more beans would cut deaths by 5-7%

The European Parliament hemicycle in Strasbourg (Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Mauro Bottaro)

EU Parliament sends controversial copyright law reform back to discussion

Here are five ways we can make mental healthcare better

IMF’s Lagarde indirectly cautioned Eurozone on deflation

Who holds the key to the future of biotechnology? You do

Eurozone: New data show recession and debt closer to explosion

Ethiopia will soon introduce visa-free travel for all Africans

How smart farming is helping Brazil feed the world

Could robot leaders do better than our current politicians?

Facilitating the access to finance and risk capital for SMEs and midcaps

Can elections in Italy and Germany derail Eurozone?

This is how people in Europe are helping lead the energy charge

Policymakers can ensure the 4IR is fairer than the last three

London, Berlin, Paris to fight over EU budget

UN receives ‘Humanium’ wristwatch gift, symbolizing peaceful transformation

Mine ban agreement ‘has saved countless lives’, but ‘accelerated efforts’ needed to end scourge for good: Guterres

Why does the whole world want Britain to stay in the EU?

Will Qualcomm avoid Broadcom’s hostile takeover post the 1 bn euro EU antitrust fine?

World Summit Awards 2016: Sustainable impact through digital innovation

168 hours left for MEPs – ECOFIN Council to deliver a Banking Union

The global appetite for meat is growing, and it’s harming the planet

The vicious cycle of poverty and exclusion spreads fast engulfing more children

Can a Bavarian Oktoberfest beer indulger bring down the Berlin government?

Travel the world, find yourself

Confronting neo-mercantilism: why regulation is critical to global trade

EU leaders agree on 2030 Climate and Energy Package: is “flexible” brave enough?

Greece @ MWC14: Greek-born mobile champions at MWC 2014

Deutsche Bank chased away from US, threatened with more fines

UN rights office calls on Zimbabwe Government to end ‘crackdown’ in response to fuel protests

The dangers of data: why the numbers never tell the full story

Berlin repels proposal for cheaper euro

This is where teachers are most (and least) respected

New roadmap toward healthier and cleaner oceans adopted by UN Environment and European Commission

Syria: UN Humanitarian Coordinator calls for unimpeded access from within the country

Tax crimes: MEPs want EU financial police force and financial intelligence unit

Launch of Pact for Youth: European Youth Forum calls for real business engagement

Ukraine: Is there a political force able to undo the division?

Draghi tells the EU Parliament his relaxed policies are here to stay

Tenants ‘forced out their homes’ by global investment firms, say UN experts

No agreement in sight on EU budget

Brexit talks stalled at launch; issues with European Court’s authority in Britain

Remembering Kofi Annan

Look Mom, even the House of Lords says the #righttobeforgotten is not right

Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, say MEPs

Water supply a human right but Greeks to lose their functioning utilities

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, who gets it and who pays the bill?

What makes Copenhagen the world’s most bike-friendly city?

Security spillovers from Trump’s trade wars: China, Germany prepare for global disorder

This project is turning abandoned fishing gear into volleyball nets

The Fourth Industrial Revolution must not leave farming behind

Crucial medical supplies airlifted to north-east Syria to meet ‘desperate need’

World must do more to tackle ‘shadowy’ mercenary activities undermining stability in Africa, says UN chief

Parliamentary bid to democratize Myanmar constitution a ‘positive development’ says UN rights expert

South Sudan: ‘Horrific acts’ by government may constitute ‘war crimes’ says UN, demanding justice

Contact the Sting

Four ways we can fix economics in 2019

EU Budget: InvestEU Programme to support jobs, growth and innovation in Europe

Christine Lagarde: the three priorities for the global economy

From inconvenience to opportunity: the importance of international medical exchanges

THE ROAD TO GANESHA

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s