“Innovation distinguishes leaders from followers,” said Steve Jobs, and he was not mistaken.
The immediacy and speed with which we live, and emergencies such as the unexpected war unleashed by the covid-19 demand innovation and immediate action not only to put a stop to the pandemic, but to adjust to the health dizziness that it produced, without overloading the health services, avoid infections and get the medical care we need more effectively.
Networks are revolutionizing medicine and putting pressure on doctors to change the traditional way of exercising their social commitment and community care and the way they guide and educate them about health.
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Currently there are dozens of platforms for care or information on all kinds of treatments and diseases: from depression – the other pandemic of the 21st century, which affects more than 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. (WHO) – up to diabetes, arthritis, osteoarthritis and many other ailments.
“The one who only knows medicine, neither knows medicine”, said the Catalan doctor José de Letamendi y Manjarrés in the 19th century, but today his famous phrase seems to be more current than ever.
This is because technology is taking doctors away from clinics and their distance and digital medicine is opening borders and democratizing access to health by allowing “more people to have services; by reducing costs and reducing waiting times for consultations with specialist doctors, who are concentrated, above all, in large cities, “says Laura Gutiérrez, a doctor from the Javeriana University and a specialist in Orthopedics and Traumatology at the University Foundation of Health Sciences (FUCS).
Dr. Gutiérrez, founder of Doc-Doc, a healthcare platform created a year ago, is convinced that care through health-focused apps like hers “are an effective tool for evaluating, monitoring and treating people with various ailments ”.
We are helping people who, for the first time, receive medical guidance digitally
This platform allows virtual triage to be carried out, “avoiding exposing or exposing other people to a possible infection and preventing congestion in the emergency services, which makes more resources available to treat the sickest and most vulnerable patients,” he says.
Doc-Doc has assisted more than 6,000 people virtually and has given more than 1,000 free covid-19 guidance.
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“We are helping people who, for the first time, receive medical guidance digitally. After that initial contact, they begin to trust platforms like ours and then consult them about other diseases, “says Gutiérrez.
About 60 general or pediatric, gynecological, orthopedic, internal medicine and cardiology physicians work 24 hours a day and seven days a week to attend affiliate consultations, who pay 25,000 pesos a month for an unlimited number of consultations, or who free access, on concerns about the virus that plagues us.
A group of nurses who are experts in maternity and issues such as breastfeeding, vaccination, newborn care and preparation for delivery also assist those seeking this type of service.
“It is essential that modern medicine uses and expands its communication channels to be able to inform all of society in a responsible, reliable and affordable way about all the advances in science and strategies to maintain the well-being and health of society. Ideally, there should be channels designed to provide direct, reliable medical communication, made up of rigorously evaluated health professionals, ”highlights Dr. Gutiérrez.
It also admits that networks and mass dissemination through digital channels also keep doctors informed in real time, “which is very valuable if the information comes from recognized sources.” But he clarifies that virtual medicine cannot be considered as “a competition with traditional medicine, but as a complement to optimize health resources and improve medical care.
In Latin America we are taking the first steps, but in the future we may have integrated data such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, physical activity carried out, even monitoring of people’s neurological status, which will allow us to provide the best care medical and help everyone regardless of where they are. “
Ideally, there are channels designed to provide direct, reliable medical communication made up of rigorously evaluated healthcare professionals
Revolution in progress
Although there is no clarity on how virtual medicine is impacting the current health system, what could be predicted is that it will end up doing so, especially when health care, in addition to being tortuous for most of the patients, has become a almost priceless business for much of the population in Colombia and other countries.
However, “technology, design and data can re-humanize health. Technology such as telemedicine allows democratizing patient access, providing immediate care, from anywhere. The design allows understanding the needs of doctors, patients, and service providers to create friendly, efficient, and intuitive experiences. Centralized data from medical history, vital signs and even genetic information can personalize the treatment of each patient as a unique individual, “says Gutiérrez.
It highlights that, before the covid-19, due to inefficiency of the system, many emergency rooms exceeded up to four times their capacity for non-emergency conditions and, therefore, “it is necessary to link traditional services with new digital ventures, to accompany the patient at every stage of their health ”.
For her, digital medicine will optimize the times from before the patient becomes ill, even before they go to an emergency room, since it will be possible to measure their severity and define whether they need face-to-face or remote care. The technology saves time for doctors and hospitals, automating administrative processes and favors patients by increasing the precision of diagnoses based on the analysis of historical data from other cases and the information available about it.
“It is crucial to articulate in the same ecosystem all the solutions around well-being, centralizing access to medical appointments, exams, therapy and nutrition, among others,” says Gutiérrez.
Currently, platforms such as Doc-Doc feed, without a doubt, the revolution in medicine, which began a long time ago with videos featuring specialist doctors and their online guidance.
If you type, for example, ‘Depression, medical advice’ in search engines like Google, you will immediately find treatments for depression, with the following text: “Electroconvulsive therapy and other brain stimulation therapies may be an option for people with severe depression… ”, for example.
But if you do not understand what ‘electroconvulsive therapy’ means and read three paragraphs below, find a video of Dr. Felipe Ortuño, director of the Department of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Navarra, who tells us: “Depression is a disorder of the affectivity ”and offers us a comprehensive explanation on the subject, its possible referrals and treatments.
Advantages and disadvantages
As in almost every new venture, digital medicine has advantages and disadvantages. It benefits doctors because, according to Gutiérrez, “they manage to reach a large number of people and connect with them from anywhere, and it is useful for patients, who receive guidance to stay healthy.”
Gutiérrez also admits that the main disadvantage, for both doctors and patients, is that many of the existing networks are not designed for the purposes of rigorous scientific guidance and there is no filter on the people and information they disclose, which ” It is very serious because those who receive the wrong information can present complications in their health ”.
In addition, it very often happens that the link between the doctor and the patient is broken because misinformation through sources on Google, YouTube and Facebook generates preconceptions, demands for medications or exams that are not relevant or failures to follow up on the recommendations. given by doctors.
For Gutiérrez, “on some occasions, patients abuse networks like WhatsApp without recognizing the doctors’ days or hours. In these cases, platforms that order availability are useful, they recognize the doctor’s time and are designed for health issues and not for social relationships. ”
It is expected that these problems will be solved as digital medicine grows stronger, especially when it is recognized that the future of consultations will be digital.
“According to the American Medical Association, up to 75 percent of doctor visits could be done remotely. This means that telemedicine will have a fundamental impact on some of the most relevant problems in the current health system, such as congestion in emergency and waiting rooms, and infections, among others, “concludes Gutiérrez.
However, experts estimate that one of the great challenges of digital medicine will be to avoid a further deterioration in the worn-out doctor-patient relationship, which is the pillar of trust because, as Hippocrates said, the successful combat against a disease.
GLORIA HELENA REY
For the time