The beginning of a revolution in healthcare

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Shubham Gupta, medical student at D.Y Patil Medical College, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India. He is 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 writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Mobile technology is no doubts one of the biggest revolutions in the story of humanity. The enlargement of interaction, communication at a distance and content disclosure are some of the benefits internet has brought, and when allied to mobile devices these resources become even more practical and flexible, once information can be produced at any time and any place. This practicality makes mobile technology a very useful tool for many sectors, including healthcare.

Telemedicine is a branch of medicine that uses information technology in order to facilitate communication at a distance between doctors, and also between doctor and patient. Once communication is essential for medical assistance, mobile devices can help a lot in this aspect. Furthermore, this resource can help improving the lack of adherence to treatment by the patients, which is a big problem in the healthcare services: many people have difficulties in accessing the services because of factors such as long distance and work schedule during the opening hours of the healthcare unit. Communication at a distance can support this situation and enlarge the number of people accessing the healthcare system.

Despite its big advance in the last years, mobile technology seems to evolve slowly in the healthcare areas. Telemedicine’s first related practical experience in the world happened in 1967, at the Massachussets General Hospital, and yet only 20 or 30 years ago this branch of the medicine has been gaining space in health professionals and patients’ routine. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have given a great stimulus to this evolution.

The overload in healthcare systems due to the pandemic has demanded emergency measures to deal with the problem, and telemedicine was one of the strategies adopted fot that. In Brazil, the Ministry of Health created the TeleSUS, a preclinical attendance service aimed to clarify doubts about the COVID-19 and guide population about when looking for presencial attendance. Another great resource was the Coronavirus – SUS app, which provides guidelines about the disease’s prevention and symptoms, and a questionnaire that addresses the person’s health conditions.

In addition, there are the “teleconsultations” – virtual consultations between patients and doctors from the primary healthcare – which support the disease’ prevention and propagation reduction, and also allow the follow-up of patients with chronic diseases, which is also a problem during the pandemic since many of these patients were avoiding medical assistance fearing contamination in the healthcare services.

That said, although telemedicine practice was quickly enlarged in order to deal with an emergency situation, its ascension seems to go beyond this period. The social effects caused by the pandemic strongly stimulated a great accession to mobile technology in many areas, promoting a real revolution that will probably keep going strong for the next years, and healthcare seems to follow this trend.

References

  1. Departamento de Patologia da Faculdade de Medicina da USP. História da Telemedicina. Accessed June 21, 2020. Available in: https://telemedicina.fm.usp.br/portal/historia-da-telemedicina/
  2. Secretaria de Atenção Primária à Saúde (SAPS). TeleSUS. Accessed June 21, 2020. Available in:  https://aps.saude.gov.br/ape/corona/telesus

About the author

Bruna Giaretta Ventorin, 22 years old, 8th semester medical student of Medicine at Unicesumar – Brazil. She is the LPRD (Local Publications and Research Director) of the IFMSA Brazil in Unicesumar and also vice president of the Angiology and Vascular Surgery Academic League (LAMACIV). She participates in the Intensive Care Medicine League (LAMIM) and in the Academic League of vulnerable populations health.

Victor Augusto Santos Perli, 22 years old, is a third year medical student at
UniCesumar, Maringá, Brazil. He is a currently member of the IMFSA Brazil
Unicesumar’s scientific local team and the Neuroscience Academic League of Maringá (LANU). He also participates in social actions at the project Humanizart. Especially interested in research and extension projects.

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