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Doctor on demand: how telemedicine works in the world

Aleks Topal
Doctor on demand: how telemedicine works in the world

In the morning, I wake up and first thing I do is look at the sleep details in the fitness bracelet app. He woke me up in the right phase of sleep and recorded me sleeping all night. During the day, he counts the number of steps he took, he can show the heart rate data. The scale will not only show my weight, but also help me determine the percentage of fat and fluid in my body, bone and muscle mass. We can measure our temperature with a non-contact thermometer, pressure, blood sugar and acetone levels in our urine. With the new Apple Watch it will soon be possible to take a cardiogram, lying at home on the sofa and not using medics.

Doxy.me has become one of the leading industries in the telemedicine services. Every year, tens of billions of dollars are invested in medical technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning for diagnostics. For example, an MRI image of a professional program can already identify heart problems within 15 seconds, while a person would need about half an hour to do the same job.

All new medical technologies work at speed, availability and accuracy. It has become important for the mankind to get accurate data about their state of health quickly, make quick corrections and return to a healthy life. But what do we get from a cardiogram that we can't read, or what do we get from data on elevated blood glucose levels if we don't know how to proceed? So far, we don't have the technology to detect the disease by symptoms and tests, to sign the treatment and write the prescription. It's always the doctor who has the last word. But what to do if you don't have a doctor near you - he has an appointment for a month or you're far away from a medical facility.

Experienced countries

Norway, a country that has long wondered how to provide health care to people living in remote areas. In 1993, a solution was found. The process of introducing telemedicine technologies began in the country. There were two directions of consultations - doctor-doctor and doctor-patient. In the first case, doctors consulted their colleagues in the hinterland; in the second case, doctors provided direct assistance to patients. They started with 6 staff members and localization in the north of the country. Now it's a big national project. And it is quite usual to come to a consultation with a doctor, to call him at home or to consult by video link.

In European countries, telemedicine is a familiar and familiar concept. Besides Norway, there are successful projects in Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France and Italy. In many countries, telemedicine also works in the commercial sector. A vivid example is our neighbour Poland. Polish doctors say that 8 out of 10 patients' requests for help they can process online.

The project in Canada is also considered successful. In March this year, representatives of the Canadian Ontario Telemedicine Network came to Ukraine to share their experience. There are 262 employees in their network. Doctors communicate with patients via video call. In 2017, they conducted 747,000 online consultations. Thanks to telemedicine, Ontario was able to save CAD 67m. Other provinces are also connecting to the project.

The demand for telemedicine is also growing in the United States. Tractica predicts that the number of tele-consultations in the United States will grow from 19.7 million in 2014 to 158.4 million in 2020.

According to Mordor Intelligance, the global market for telemedicine in 2017 was $32.8 million. A year earlier, its volume was $4 million less - $28.8 million. The research company predicts that by 2023, the market will grow to almost $90 million.

Telemedicine projects can be found not only in developed Europe, Canada, the United States, China or Japan, but also in various variations in India, Egypt, Zambia, Madagascar, Peru, Congo, Burundi, West Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kuwait.

What's the Convenience

The main advantage of telemedicine is the movement of information, not the movement of people. The patient does not need to go anywhere, wait for an appointment, stand in line, or contact other patients - he can get a consultation at home at a convenient time. The doctor is also comfortable - the patient does not need to go to the hospital. This means that more patients can be admitted during the same working hours.
With the help of telemedicine, it is possible to reduce the number of visits to the doctor. For example, the first appointment with a family doctor can be held online. The doctor will collect symptoms, send for tests and additional examinations, and the second appointment can come in person. Or vice versa. The patient comes to the first appointment, the doctor examines him, sends for tests and the results of the patient goes online to contact, where he receives the scheme of treatment and prescription.

Aleks Topal
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