Telemedicine: union when the rule is isolation

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Camila Pereira Ramos Severino, third-year medical student at UNIOESTE, Local Director of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Peace, of IFMSA Brazil in Francisco Beltrão and Ms. Ana Clara Yuri Baba, 22 years old and  second-year medical student at
University of Maringá (UNICESUMAR), Paraná, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Tele: radical derived from ancient Greek which means distance – a keyword in times of isolation. United to the word medicine, the ancient art of caring, composes telemedicine, which covers all medical practice performed by distance, regardless of the instrument used to ensure doctor-patient interaction.

The context of telemedicine is the emergence of communication technologies, having relatively recent historical roots. It is known that this practice is very uneven across the globe, with countries that use it widely, in Europe and North America, while there are nations that practically ignore it. In Brazil  was regulated in 2002 with focus at primary care in rural and isolated regions of the country, however, telemedicine was only consolidated earlier in this year (2020). 

In times that the world has literally stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic, the year 2020 faced an unprecedented emergency in history. Since then, the consequences have been disastrous for the economy and global public health. In this context, a highly contagious virus poses risks to human health, isolation and social detachment are the rules of this new world – more distant and impersonal.

Although almost everything has stagnant, the demands for care and chronic diseases continue to require medical attention. However, the high number of coronavirus cases has overloaded health systems and changed the frequency of visits to the doctor, for a basic issue of responsibility and safety. It is also known that several chronic diseases that require monitoring, such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular problems are risk factors for developing the most severe form of COVID-19 and therefore, there was a need to resort safer cares alternatives that would maintain these risk groups away from outpatient clinics and hospitals.

Regarding patients infected with coronavirus, 75% of cases are mild or asymptomatic. Thus, considering the fast transmission of the disease, medicine needed to adapt to monitoring these patients at a distance, safely and keeping them in isolation. The possibility of providing follow-up to mild cases, monitoring the situation of patients and assessing whether there is a need for face-to-face assistance; as well as the possibility of providing care and monitoring of chronic illnesses, has been increasingly consolidated, promoting effective monitoring for patients in different regions of the country, without the need to travel to medical care, taking help and specialized advice from safely and effectively through tele-education and tele-assistance.

During a worldwide pandemic, with such a widespread and devastating consequences, it is a remarkable importance that telemedicine and the exchange of medical knowledge and experiences also have no limit. Even though, social distance is extremely important, interpersonal barriers can be overcome using the most widespread means of communication around the world, so that medical care and information can not be demage by the physical barriers that surround us.

About the author

Camila Pereira Ramos Severino, third-year medical student at UNIOESTE, Local Director of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Peace, of IFMSA Brazil in Francisco Beltrão. Dedicated to extension projects, scientific initiation, academic leagues and various projects of medical education, female empowerment, and humanization of medicine.

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