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The New Normal: Telehealth – An Unexpected Opportunity

COVID-19 has unprecedentedly changed the living style of every single one of us. Non-emergency services offered by hospitals and clinics were cancelled amid the pandemic, resulting in the postponement of scheduled surgeries and outpatients’ general check-ups. Moreover, patients themselves are reluctant to visit clinics or hospitals to avoid any possible social contact. They are eager to seek a newer and safer way to get an access to the medical services.

Before the arrival of COVID-19, only a few people adopted Telehealth services as they would rather visit hospitals or clinics for medical treatments. The pandemic stimulated their needs for digital healthcare services when they experienced restrictions such as lockdowns and social distancing. In response to COVID-19, there is no surprise that the demand for Telehealth services has rocketed.

In general, the most frequently adopted Telehealth service is “interactive service” which enables patients to consult doctors digitally via video conferencing software. The remote healthcare services can successfully minimize the risk of in-person consultation and effectively control the community spread of COVID-19. In addition, Telehealth can save the time for primary care screening and profoundly reduce the burden on the medical system.

When Technology Meets Healthcare

Today, Telehealth is still emerging with its especially lagging behind usage, in some developing regions. Digital technology becomes the key to popularize remote healthcare services. With the support of Information and Communications technology (ICT), doctors can schedule virtual appointments with patients, view their medical records online or prescribe medications remotely. Especially amid the pandemic, a quick access to the electronic medical records not only provides the latest information about new infections, but also predicts the severity of the disease and the need for further measures or quarantine practices. All of these require the establishment of a sharing cloud infrastructure in a data center to standardize, interoperate and interconnect electronic medical records among different healthcare IT systems.

With enormous amount of medical data and personal information stored and transferred among communication devices and medical institutions, privacy and data security have become huge challenges to Telehealth. The risks involve unauthorized access to data during collection, transmission or storage. Any data transfer may hence potentially lead to security breaches. Hackers and malware pose an increasing threat to the security of Telehealth systems. Medical institutions must formulate appropriate information security precautions to protect patients’ data against cyberattacks.

Further Development of Telehealth

Adopting innovative technologies acts as the key stimulator to the development of Telehealth industry. For instance, the immutability of Blockchain can be used to protect and manage patients’ medical information. The emerging 5G technology offers massive connection power and fast speed which can drastically improve the quality of video conferencing for virtual medical appointments. With the support of 5G networks, the use of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and spatial computing may further enhance surgical treatments or other complex medical scenarios. Overall, the future of Telehealth should be inextricably bound with technology which provides a more convenient communicative method between patients and doctors.

As your trusted ICT solutions partner, CITIC Telecom CPC leverages innovative technologies to empower different industries to transform and reinvent themselves during these unprecedented times. Please contact our professional teams in local offices all over the world to discuss your challenges or transformation plans in order to overcome the crisis.

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