The rise of access to health from a distance
The disease has always been a factor that has reverberated in our society, understanding how to cure diseases originated one of the first ways in which people related to each other. In this relationship, two figures emerge the healer and the patient, a linear and hierarchical relationship that over the years would be modified to this day (1), now having the doctor-patient relationship with the medical sciences.
The doctor-patient relationship expanded, we not only talk about the sick person or the disease, but we also talk about the patients as well as their gender, their family and other essential factors for their recovery. At this point of humanity, we have an incredible tool to communicate we have access to the Internet, telecommunications and of course health through digital media, this will be the topic that I will discuss in the following lines, hoping to broaden the vision and its future.
Currently almost all people have some instrument to connect to the internet (cell phones, laptops, tablets) this puts within their reach the possibility of accessing infinity of services that perhaps three decades ago was impossible. Today we have social networks that allow us to communicate with more people in real-time. The use of these instruments to access health services is a reality; more and more people can access the search for medical information.
One concept that perhaps old-school doctors found it difficult to integrate was that of telemedicine (2). Being able to receive classes, help a colleague in a remote surgical procedure became a revolutionary fact, medicine entered the era of globalization. On the other hand, this digital phenomenon brought in these decades remote consultation services, today we observe the proliferation of doctors of different specialties offering their consultation services on the web, examples of this can be found on pages such as:
The question arises: What will happen to the doctor-patient relationship? This communicative channel with a great empathetic component, which is brilliantly exposed in the conclusions of empathy in the health sector by Dr. Helen Riess (3); How would it look? How would it be modified? Perhaps they were unknowns that were overlooked; below I mention some of the possible advantages and disadvantages of this new modality of medical care.
- Being able to access the medical consultation without having to travel to a hospital, will allow lower operating costs
- Patients can maintain contact with their doctors without missing the consultation
- Remote assistance can be of great help for caregivers of the patients with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or Cerebral Palsy
- Aid or assistance outside your country or in your language can be a great advantage for immigrants
- There are medical conditions that cannot be resolved remotely such as a femur fracture or appendicitis; they need to be evaluated by a doctor.
- There must be clear regulations to protect patient information through the digital space (4)
- Some countries and territories have clear limitations, not everyone can have access to these services
- Communication and face-to-face interview provides a lot of information, this is the art of semiology. We must adapt our traditional methods to new technologies.
This generation has a different level of creativity is an APP generation as Dr. Howard Gardner (5) would say; a group of people who will meet in the distance, that electronic applications will be as common to them as walking. This way of accessing health little by little will have to be perfected as the new time’s demand, doctors and patients of an APP generation.
Talking about four decades ago about gender differences in medicine was just limiting women’s health to Gynecology and Obstetrics. Today the importance of knowing more about gender health is a reality; institutions like W.H.O1 (6) recognize it. Digital consultations also have to recognize the patient behind the monitor. Although there is a human being from a particular condition in the distance, all the changes that we make in the treatment of the patients we need to carry it into digital space.
Dear reader, this short paper was made to provide some ideas for an event that we can watch and that I am sure will affect medicine. Every fact can be studied, that is a precept of the basic sciences, but medicine is made by human beings and its impact is sometimes difficult to quantify.
This resource is on the rise, perhaps in the future, we can talk to our doctors remotely and receive treatment at the local pharmacy or health center, or we will help more caregivers to get not sick from caring for others if they can make their consultations from home, maybe an immigrant can have the assistance they require from a distance. Like any new option, it must be viewed carefully and willing to make the changes to make it work, to give more possibilities to all people that it needs.
1. CAÑAMERAS J, SOCIAL NETWORKS AND HEALTH. A PRACTICAL APPLICATION Autonomous University of Barcelona. 2014
2. Velázquez M, Pacheco A, Silva M, Sosa D. Evaluation of the teleconsultation process from the provider’s perspective, Telehealth Program of Oaxaca, Mexico. Rev Panam of Public Health. 2017; 41: e22.
3. Helen, R Et al-.Empathy Training for Resident Physicians: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Neuroscience-Informed Curriculum. J GEN INTERN MED. USES. 2012
4. Serri M. Rev. Chil. Infectol. vol.35 no.6 Santiago 2018
5. Gardner H Et al-. Generation App, Paidos, Argentina, 2015.
6. WHO “Gender Mainstreaming for Health Managers: A Practical Approach”
Dr. Luis Guillermo Jiménez
Médico Cirujano / Investigador en Neurociencias