Telemedicine has become a major talking point in recent weeks and is widely considered as a very promising way to reduce face to face encounters in our healthcare system, as we abide by social distancing guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19. An article issued in The Ophthalmologist discusses the potential for telemedicine to reduce the amount of time patients and clinicians spend in close contact with each other by engaging in remote and virtual consultations, which will also help the wider community.

While it’s difficult to establish new and specific telemedicine resources overnight to fit the needs of every demand, there are options available to us now which we can and should make greater use of to reduce in-person contact and ease the strain on our healthcare systems. Forward triage is one such promising strategy, which assesses the individuals need for an immediate in-person appointment, using good quality data relevant to their condition for precise risk stratification. This allows patients and clinicians to interact online to reduce the number of people attending physical consultations and ease the strain on outpatient clinics.

Reassuring and communicating with people living with chronic diseases, such as Geographic Atrophy (dry age-related macular degeneration) or diabetes-related macular edema (DME) may also be enhanced with home-monitoring of patient symptoms during these stressful times. Applications are available which allow ophthalmologists to monitor visual acuity from a remote location to keep in line with social distancing guidelines and keep contact with patients as necessary to discuss their condition, how they are doing between hospital appointments and keeping them informed about how to care for their eyes, while largely confined to home.

It’s very possible that the current global crisis could completely revolutionise our models for delivering care, adopting a more remote system which relieves a lot of stress already on our healthcare systems and eases the struggles of many people attending face-to-face consultations which may soon be possible at home.

Read the full article: Tackling COVID-19 with Telemedicine

 

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