As the number of documented cases of COVID-19 continues to rise, health officials and providers are exploring virtual care delivery to screen patients for infection away from crowded emergency departments and provide a safer care alternative for those in isolation after a positive diagnosis.
And while telehealth’s most critical benefit may be to keep healthy people safe, including the general public, patients and health workers, another crucial advantage is its ability to provide a powerful “force multiplier” that dramatically extends the reach of caregivers. Medical professionals such as EMT’s can quickly screen larger numbers of patients and lessen the burden on physicians and specialists who can perform remote consults when needed.
This isn’t the first time that telemedicine has been considered for the treatment of infectious disease, but growing concerns over a widespread outbreak are certainly pushing it to the forefront. Health organizations are beginning to employ digital health in a number of ways in preparation for COVID-19 cases— ranging from transitioning patients with cold and flu symptoms into virtual appointments, installing telemedicine stations in isolation units, to setting up dedicated triage units offsite to send patients for screening and specialist consults.
Some U.S. military organizations, such as Navy Medicine, are repurposing GlobalMed telemedicine technologies originally earmarked for other purposes for coronavirus preparedness. Earlier this year, Navy Medicine worked with GlobalMed to configure a mobile telemedicine kit to be deployed in the field. The kits contains an array of lightweight, digital devices able to gather vitals, monitor progress, view ultrasounds, hear heart, lung and GI sounds as well as capture images of skin, ears, eyes and other areas. This past week, Navy Medicine determined the kits were ideal for deploying to patients requiring isolation as a result of COVID-19 or any other infectious disease.
Due to solution requirements, the particular configuration contained a built-in military-grade tablet for rugged conditions, but the system can be deployed on any PC that meets the minimum specifications.
In addition to a transportable exam station and purpose-built packs, GlobalMed also offers a range of virtual health solutions, including carts and space-saving wall mounted units enabled with integrative software and data-capturing tools to deliver a comprehensive, evidence-based encounter for patients and providers.
“Telemedicine easily lends itself to infectious disease management. From initial screening to ongoing monitoring and better connection for isolation patients—these are all just a few ways that telemedicine can be leveraged in the war against coronavirus,” stated Joel E. Barthelemy, founder and CEO of GlobalMed.