Telemedicine: a new take on healthcare during Covid-19

CAPE TOWN- In the midst of a global pandemic, where some hospitals face insufficient beds, equipment and personnel, healthcare systems in crisis have the opportunity to test innovation. 

Telemedicine has the potential to be a game-changer, says Postdoctoral Researcher Cornelius Kalenzi from the KAIST-Korea Policy Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In an article first published on the World Economic Forum, Kalenzi says that government and healthcare leaders need to reimagine how healthcare services are delivered during the time of global pandemic.

Currently more than 100 countries around the world are resorting to measures of national lockdowns and social distancing. 

The use of telemedicine or telehealth has the potential to slow the transmission rates of Covid-19 by keeping at-risk people out of waiting rooms and reducing their contact with healthcare facilities.

What is telemedicine? 

Telemedicine removes the need for some patients to physically “see” a doctor or a healthcare practitioner. Unless it is an emergency or an urgent case, people can communicate with teleconsults and video conference a doctor. This method is becoming one of the fastest-growing means to consult in healthcare sectors. Some countries such as Australia and Singapore are quietly encouraging the use of telehealth services.

Will it work in South Africa?

Telemedicine could be a useful tool in healthcare going forward, however there are a number of barriers that could affect its implementation. For it to work, South African healthcare services would need to have well-coordinated action between governments, tech firms and healthcare providers to overcome existing barriers. 


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