Telemedicine helps narrow healthcare gap between cities, under-served areas

Telemedicine has proven to be an inexpensive method for providing care to those living in rural and other medically under-served areas such as border crossings, island and disadvantaged regions which are confronted with a shortage of good medical staffs.

A doctor at Go vap Hospital is providing online consultation to an elderly patient (Photo: SGGP)
A doctor at Go vap Hospital is providing online consultation to an elderly patient (Photo: SGGP)
Additionally, telemedicine helps those in above-mentioned areas get access to high quality medical services and cut treatment costs.
During time of social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, many medical centers in Ho Chi Minh City have provided telemedicine and remote treatment as well as in-house examination.
Director of medical center in Go Vap District Nguyen Trung Hoa said the center has piloted remote medical examination program by using telemedicine system from March, 2020.
According to the program, one or two nurses have also come to patients’ house to check blood pressure. These nurses have connected with physicians at the center to prescribe drugs. Patient Le Thi Yen in ward 16 of Go Vap District said she was satisfied with telemedicine as she has lately suffered arthritis; therefore, she has had difficulties in walking to the local medical center but she must go to the facility to take drug for diabetes once half-month.
Deputy Director of the city Department of Health Associate Professor Tang Chi Thuong said that telemedicine has greatly contributed to gap filling in primary healthcare especially it has met the increasing demand of examination at houses for elderly people and the shortage of medical workers in grass-root centers.
Thanks to online consultation, doctors in large infirmaries in big cities can share their experience in treating with their counterparts in small medical facilities in rural and distance facilities.
The piloted telemedicine in Go Vap District has shown good result; hence, the city will continue implementation of telemedicine as we as petition the Ministry of Health to allow telemedicine covered by insurance agency, said Mr. Thuong.
Because of benefit generated by telemedicine, the Ministry has recently greenlighted the telemedicine project for the period 2020-2025. Director of the Ministry of Health’s Medical Examination and Treatment Department Luong Ngoc Khue said the project aims to improve doctors’ skills in grass-root facilities and the use of telemedicine will provide subspecialty services to rural locals with special health-care needs; therefore, it helps reducing patient overload in big infirmaries in metropolitan districts.
Mr. Khue added during social distancing , online consultations have been adopted effectively in treating people. Moreover, the health sector has gathered good doctors working together and there had no gap between big and small hospitals. For instance, leading doctors have taken part in online consultation leading to successful treatment on Briton pilot who tested positive for Covid-19 on March 18 and has had 90 days of treatment.
In the project, 24 big hospitals are assigned to give online consultation to help their peers in grass-root facilities. The government will spend more on wards of heart, infectious disease, tumor, pediatrics, non-communicable diseases in 400 small public hospitals and privately-run hospitals.

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