Telemedicine: Is now the time for it?


Last July 22, a coalition of  medical organizations and health advocates in the Philippines gathered together to call on the Philippine government to address the problem of physician shortage in the country in order for the Universal Health Care Program of the government to truly meet  it’s objectives.

In her speech dubbed as the State of the Nation’s Health Address, former Philippine Health secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral said, “The Philippines is in the midst of a healthcare crisis.” She pointed out that there are only 2.3 primary care providers in the country per 10,000 population. This is compared to the 24 healthcare workers per 10,000 recommended by the World Health Organization. Dr. Cabral added, “If there are no healthcare workers, there can be no access to healthcare.”

Physician shortage is not a problem only observed in the Philippines. Even the US is believed to be experiencing a shortage of physicians as mentioned in this article. In the same post, it cited an Association of American Medical Colleges estimate that the US will face a shortage of more than 159,000 doctors by year 2025.

Amidst these reports of physician shortage, telemedicine has been suggested as something that may help solve the problem of physician shortage.

Telemedicine has been defined as the use of information technologies and electronic communication for the delivery of clinical care. This includes the use of smartphones, two-way video, wireless tools and many more.

Several have enumerated the following, among other things, that can be made possible through telemedicine:

  1. Consultations that may help the physician render a diagnosis in remote and multiple locations without the need for travel. (This may involve the use of transmission of diagnostic images or live video as an example.)
  2. Remote monitoring of patients
  3. Quick access to medical expertise
  4. Consultation and collaboration with healthcare peers and medical experts
  5. more opportunities for participation in continued education activities (even grand rounds).

But telemedicine is not without concerns which make some reluctant to practice it. We want to know your thoughts.

This Saturday, July 26 9 AM Philippine time, we invite you to discuss with us the issues regarding telemedicine in #HealthXPh

We present to you the following questions:

  • T1 Can telemedicine help address the shortage of physicians?
  • T2 What are the barriers to the practice of telemedicine?
  • T3 What important concepts in telemedicine should be taught in medical schools?

And before the tweetchat will end, kindly share to us, if you think now is the time for telemedicine.

See you this Saturday in Twitter at #HealthXPh