Even though the current laws governing the use of telemedicine remains unclear, it could have a huge role to play at times like these, where with an advancing pandemic, it becomes crucial to keep at-risk patients from contracting the virus during a regular hospital visit.
In this article, Dr. Monish Raut, details on how telehealth can lessen the burden on healthcare systems, hospitals, and prevent the spread of infection among vulnerable populations during crisis situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic.
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COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire throughout the world and very aptly it has been designated as a pandemic. To curb the outbreak, awareness about hand and respiratory hygiene has been reinforced. Social distancing and self quarantine, too, have been made essential in reducing the transmission.
Data available until now clearly indicates that the most vulnerable population is the elderly with comorbid illnesses such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Up to 50% of coronavirus cases had chronic cardiovascular ailments as reported in the journal The Lancet.
Cardiovascular patients are more likely to get decompensated after contracting viral respiratory infection such as COVID-19. Moreover the symptoms of heart failure may mimic those of the infection. In such a dilemma, cardiac patients visiting the hospital and being in the vicinity of infected patients may potentially become victim to this unfortunate infection as well.
Can we do anything better in such situations?
Telemedicine can certainly help in keeping uninfected cardiac patients out of the hospital in such times of vulnerable outbreak. Telemedicine-assisted virtual visits and remotely-collected monitoring parameters can certainly help physicians assess whether such patients would need actual hospital visit or simple medication alteration.
Even the American College of Cardiology and American College of Physicians have recently advocated the use of telehealth to reduce the community spread of infection. Sophisticated technological and digital advances have enabled effective telemonitoring of the patient, remotely collecting data, and helping with better decision to improve outcomes.
Investigational implantable CardioMems Heart Sensor that monitors pulmonary artery pressure can bring down the relative risk of hospitalisations for heart failure by 30% (The CHAMPION Study).
A wearable patch with multisensor telemetry can predict and identify the patients with impending cardiac decompensation (LINK HF Study).
Patients can inform their physicians of non-invasively measured data via standalone systems; through telephone call or internet access.
Legislation status of telemedicine, however, is still under a cloud of doubt. But now, with the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic, the time has come to review its potential utility.
Disclaimer- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of M3 India.
The author, Dr. Monish S Raut is a Consultant in Cardiothoracic Vascular Anaesthesiology. His area of expertise is perioperative management and echocardiography with numerous publications in various national and international indexed journals.