E-health: Appeal to “less is more”

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Valentina Parra, born in Colombia, she is 21 years old and is a medical student. She is affiliated with 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.

If we talk about opportunities in the field of e-health and telemedicine, I propose the opportunity to appeal to “less is more”. Although this new field of development in medicine has the noble intention of expanding coverage and improving health services by reducing barriers in primary care, the strategy could be a partial solution and not a substantive one.

The approach to digital medical services would not be focused on solving the central problem (access to health), but on generating a partial approach susceptible to trigger new problems secondary to the initial and of greater severity progressively. Making a simile between the barriers in primary care and a pathology, solving problems derived from the initial one and not responding to the basic problem, is just as effective as prescribing antibiotics for viral infections.

In this way I appeal to “less is more”, to go back to the beginning and find the main cause, even if it is not the absolute one, to work on it and think that the humanitarian approach should start from equality.

Telemedicine and e-health could be becoming other ineffective medicine strategies if there is no adequate prior management of the central problem situation: the prevailing inequity in access to health. Telemedicine could increase barriers in access to health, with the increase in distance consultations and the decrease in face-to-face consultations, taking into account that those who do not have access to health, could have difficulties accessing digital media.

“Less is more”. If the central problem is inequity, the initial approach should aim to totally reduce these barriers, instead of adopting partial approaches, which, although they can have a positive influence, are generators of new limitations. This would go against one of the objectives for those who practice medicine: to respond to situations that interfere with a total state of well-being, since a partial solution does not generate total results.

The semiology is usually variable in practice. Although telemedicine is an opportunity to approach those who require care, it reduces the possibility of having a complete sensory perception from the doctor-patient relationship, and this could generate difficulties for diagnosis, increasing the possibilities of decreasing diagnostic precision and could be an obstacle for those who work in this area; in the same way it could become a barrier to access to health, adhering to the WHO definition and understanding health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not only the absence of diseases or illnesses ”.

Is it possible to provide a state of complete well-being without having a complete semiological and sensory perception of the patients? Going back to the beginning is not as easy as it usually appears.

About the author

Defender of life without absolutism. She has always felt an intense sense of loneliness in the midst of irrefutable and noisy company. She prefers not to believe in the standardization of perceptions, but still believes in the scientific method (partially). She is the daughter of the tropics, born in Colombia, she is 21 years old and is a medical student. She loves conversations of any kind, especially those about the meaning of what exists.

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