Role of Technology in Enhancing Access to Healthcare Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3294 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Health  ·  Written: November 15, 2017

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .

For instance, a patient in need of a wound care can be managed using the applications of telemedicine while at home (Alvandi, 2017). Telemedicine can support communication between a nurse operating in an outpatient clinic of a particular hospital, a nurse at the home of a patient assessing his or her condition through photographs or wound descriptions located in the database and a doctor in a different facility but exceptionally involved in wound care.

The significance of a web-based solution to a coordinated care should also be underscored. Ideally, it involves incorporating information from diagnostic tests and biometric measures then alerting the physician automatically (Alvandi, 2017). One of the in-home communication devices is Health Buddy that can be utilized in managing heart failure condition whereby biometric measures like fetal cardiac or breathing rate and blood pressure while patterns are monitored from a different location. The devices provide reminders to the patients when it is time for medication or if they legs should be elevated and monitors increased edema and difficulty in breathing then notifies the nurses.

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Developing nations will benefit from applications of telemedicine in different sectors of the healthcare system. These nations have limited healthcare resources including insufficient numbers qualified physicians, and there is a significant difference in public expenditure on health when compared to advanced countries (Scott & Mars, 2015). In developing countries like India, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, the healthcare and transport infrastructure is still inferior, and the rural and remote areas are primarily underserved (Scott & Mars, 2015). As such, telemedicine presents a viable and apt alternative of delivering healthcare to the population dwelling in the remotest of regions.

TOPIC: Research Paper on The Role of Technology in Enhancing Access to Healthcare Assignment

In the developing countries, healthcare access is unequal (Qin, Dzombak, Amin, & Mehta, 2013). Although healthcare access may be adequate in the urban areas and cities, the remote areas are hard hit. Individuals who fall sick in such places only receive primary care from local facilities that have limited medicine, are under-equipped and under-staffed (Qin et al., 2013). Some patients have to travel long distances to reach the nearest facility and telemedicine had never been any more essential than today.

Mobile health has gained significant traction in some developing countries such as India, and Nigeria where mobile operators have increased their clientele up to the remote areas in the region (Qin et al., 2013). The space of mobile phones regarding telemedicine strategy is well underscored. There are several telemedicine projects underway particularly in the prevention and treatment of malaria. For instance, a telemedicine initiative dubbed Mashavu uses kiosks to offer rural residents e-visits to the physician (Holmes, Suffian, Lackey, & Mehta, 2014). These kiosks are managed by trained professional volunteers who give the patients an opportunity to undergo primary diagnostic tests. The tests outcomes are then sent electronically to a doctor who provided feedback regarding the essentiality of a healthcare facilitys consultation.

Other telemedicine initiatives in countries such as Kenya include TB Control whereby supervision of adherence is by using mobile telephony and the AMREFs initiative of monitoring food security and illness episodes occurring to patients in their homes. For example, m-health is assisting in streamlining and improving the national health care efforts (Holmes et al., 2014). When clinics embrace these initiatives, patients are no longer referred to bigger hospitals and the travel costs and time is reduced. It also allows for a better distribution of patient load as the referral hospitals would not have to handle extreme cases (Qin et al., 2013). Furthermore, the delivery of medicine has become more effective and timely resulting in an improved nation healthcare service.

However, the telemedicine industry presents numerous opportunities for growth. Advancements in software and mobile technologies accommodate feasibility technologies like video conference that need a stable internet connection (Qin et al., 2013). While telemedicine is currently the new frontier for healthcare in the developing nations, its future success can only be determined by the ability of the states to circumvent the numerous barriers around it.

Methodology

The researcher interviewed a physician who has the specialty in healthcare informatics named Jose Piovanetti from Healthcare Informatics Group. A semi-structured interview guide with both close-and open-ended questions was used to collect the data. The interview was recorded, transcribed, and thematic coding using Nvivo software with a priori and emergent codes. The participant was asked two central questions with probes to provide more clarity.

Question One: Could telemedicine positively improve the quality of healthcare and its delivery for remotely located advanced healthcare?

The participant regarded telemedicine quite highly and believed that its possibilities in improving the healthcare quality and delivery in remote and underserved regions are limitless. The physician acknowledges that in remote and underserved regions, the doctor-to-patient ratio is insufficient and the medical specialists are mostly not enough to meet the needs of the population. Therefore, multifaceted strategies should be developed to enhance healthcare delivery in clinically underserved places in both urban and rural areas (Rifat, et al, 2015). When patients receive appropriate health care, acute conditions are locally managed before becoming severe.

In most underserved and remote regions, the health care delivery system tussles with the maintenance of sufficient numbers of clinical staff to serve the patient load. Globally, there is a shortage of medical supply, and the situation may not change in the coming few years. The participant recognizes telemedicine as the perfect way to circumvent the current quagmire. For example, Piovanetti says:

Telemedicine is convenient at it enhances patients experience when interacting with a physician. Costs are also reduced.

In this regard, a patient receives healthcare while closer to home and do not need to travel long distances in pursuit of a specialist diagnosis. Furthermore, the waiting time, travel and transport costs, and the patients healthcare utilization are minimized. These saved costs could be utilized in the implementation of infrastructure-laden telemedicine. Piovanetti states:

Telemedicine connects healthcare providers with specialists in various locations thereby ensuring that the quality of service is enhanced.

Furthermore, telemedicine provides significant learning opportunities for healthcare providers. They no longer need to travel to big cities or towns for information, and it would encourage them to serve in remote regions without feeling left out since they would be informed just like their big city counterparts. The physician maintained that telemedicine presents an opportunity that government officials, community leaders, venture capitalists, and healthcare practitioners cannot afford to sleep on because of its benefits in improving healthcare in remote and underserved areas.

Question Two: Is telemedicine sufficient to improve healthcare quality and delivery in remote and underserved areas?

The participant also provided that the concept of telemedicine does not function on its own in supporting the delivery of quality care in the remote and underserved region. Professional, organizational, individual, familial, educational, economic, legal, cultural, social, and contextual factors are also significant drivers of the telemedicine success. For instance, Piovanetti says,

The problem is pegged on the unequal allocation of the medical resources which automatically marginalizes some communities.

Once the resources that support telemedicine are not reimbursed, then the initiative is bound to fail. Malpractice issues, the inadequacy of information struture, confidentiality concerns, discomfort with technology, and legal provisions on telemedicine also function as barriers that should not be ignored. It is essential to educate the patients about the entire concept of telemedicine since they have concerns including the involved risks, the procedure, or even the assurance of maintenance of their privacy and confidentiality (Rifat, et al, 2015). The whole concept is also new, and most physicians may also be reluctant to change practice patterns, fear losing patients, prefer transferring sicker patients than observing them remotely or even bare uncomfortable with technology.

Conclusion

The future of telemedicine in advancing delivery and quality of healthcare in remote and underserved areas is quite promising. The inadequacy of specialist services and healthcare providers and the essentiality of having advanced skills will remain on a significant high in the coming few years. It would be problematic to ensure that the rate of production of healthcare workers is directly proportional to the ever-growing population levels. Therefore, policymakers and stakeholders in the healthcare sector will be forced to adopt healthcare delivery strategies that circumvent these challenges.

The findings corroborate the previous outcomes on the efficacy of telemedicine. Telemedicine presents the solution for improving healthcare quality and accessibility since it allows doctors to assess, diagnose, and manage conditions from a distance. It also offers an effective approach for underserved regions to access tertiary care advice. Healthcare sectors should invest in telemedicine to enable patients to look for suitable therapy for acute illnesses, adhere to their therapies religiously, and enhance the quality of life those patients battling with chronic diseases. With telemedicine, patients also get to receive timely medical care without the need for traveling long distances in pursuit of better health.

Some of the most significant barriers to the realization of telemedicine in the remote areas include underdeveloped infrastructure, social and cultural concerns, as well as reluctance among patients and physicians especially… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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