Telework, teleeducation and telemedicine. They look like concepts straight out of a futuristic novel. But it’s not like that. The pandemic is forcing us to get closer and closer to technology. Although telemedicine has existed since the 1960s due to its military and space use in the United States, this tool is increasingly available to everyone today.
But what is telemedicine? According to the World Health Organization it is medical care, diagnosis and treatment with the help of interactive sound, image and data communications.
Before the health emergency caused by COVID-19, its use in Peru was restricted, despite the fact that the geographical and social situation of our country often required attention to distance. As a result of this problem, doctors Christian Rivera and Karen Salirrosas created the Smart Doctor platform in 2018, based on teleconsultation. The application provides medical care remotely through an electronic device with internet access. Through the app’s chat, the patient communicates with a doctor, describes the symptoms of his illness and the doctor recommends what to do, what medicines to take or if it is necessary to go to the hospital.RELATED
Smart Doctor, the application for telemedicine is currently available only for Android.
In the midst of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health asked the Smart Doctor team to link this platform to its helpline. Now, both entities, together with the National Association of Pharmaceutical Laboratories (Alafarpe), have joined forces to be the first filter in the detection of coronavirus in the population.
The application began operations in Lima with home care for vulnerable populations: people with disabilities or older adults. Also, they included pediatricians. “This is how we worked for a while, but we realized that our reach was not what we expected. We were looking to democratize access to good health care, “says Christian Rivera, CEO of Smart Doctor.
That is why, with his colleagues, Rivera managed to put together a greater network of 500 doctors, who promised to attend to different parts of the country through the app. However, there was still a problem, some people could not afford the social fee of ten soles for the consultation.
“We decided to look for partners,” says Rivera, “to help us. We knock on the doors of companies to propose that they include Smart Doctor within their insurance ”. Several companies accepted and the application could be improved and the attentions were greater, until the coronavirus crisis and social isolation arrived.
The creative team of Smart Doctor, headed by Drs. Christian Rivera and Karen Salirrosas. It’s the government’s turn
On April 13, Alafarpe, the Ministry of Health and Smart Doctor agreed to join the application to combat the pandemic. The Minsa promised to train 1,200 volunteer doctors to attend the app, Alafarpe became a sponsor and Smart Doctor provided the technology.
The application began to serve free of charge and became a fast discard channel for COVID-19. However, this did not mean the abandonment of other patients. Rather, telemonitoring has been established to follow both coronavirus and chronic disease patients. Through the application, people are sent a daily questionnaire, and according to their results, they are supervised by a doctor who communicates by video call with the patient to recommend what to do.
According to Ángela Flores, Alafarpe’s executive director, care has also been taken in the selection of medical personnel who attend through the app. Thanks to the agreement, the best professionals were recruited. “This tool,” he adds, “helps us to geolocate the covid population and know if they are following the treatment. Detecting them early helps in decision making. ”
For the next few months, when the effects of the pandemic are expected to pass, the creators of Smart Doctor are working on an artificial intelligence algorithm to improve care through the app. They hope that as stated by the patient, the algorithm can determine if the patient should talk to the doctor via chat or call. In this way, they say, the human resource will be used more efficiently.
“We plan to release this option by June, because the algorithm depends not only on the development of technology, but also on patient information. The more data we collect, the algorithm will become more intelligent, “Rivera explains.
The next goal will be to place Smart Doctor ‘in person’ in the provinces. How? The plan is to implement mobile devices with internet access within municipalities, pharmacies, schools, etc., so that the population can communicate with a doctor without having to wait for a consultation in the hospital.
Telemedicine seems to be here to stay with us. This is another effect of a pandemic that is already changing our lives.
-You can download the Minsa SD App from the Play Store, for now only available on Android.
-The patient searches for the specialty he needs then completes a form in which he explains his state of health.
-Then he goes to a teleconsultation chat in which a doctor will answer your questions.
-At the end the App must qualify.