A few taps on a smartphone is all it takes to get life-saving advice in the new normal.
This is particularly true for MediCard Philippines Inc.’s Telemedicine. In a matter of seconds and from the convenience of your own home, you can connect to a health professional. This drastically lowers your risk of transmitting the dreaded COVID-19.
“Our mentors in medical school taught us, ‘You can diagnose a disease using good and complete medical history up to 80 percent of the time, and your physical examination will just be there to support it,’” said MediCard president Dr. Nicky Montoya.
“With that in mind and especially during this pandemic, medical problems can be managed through MediCard Telemedicine. Though we still advise some of them to seek face-to-face consults or get some laboratory tests done, this greatly reduces their risk of exposure to COVID-19 outside of their homes,” he added.
“Our clients have access to their doctors for medical consults,” explained Dr. Angelo V. Tarectecan, MediCard Telemedicine head. “We have general medicine doctors available every day, and also a wide range of medical specialists available on schedule.”
Telemedicine’s services can be accessed through the user-friendly MACE App. People can also use the free platform to access their health plan and seek authorization for laboratory tests.
Positive testimonials have been mounting for MediCard Telemedicine.
“Good thing I don’t need to get out of the house anymore just to get a refill of my maintenance medications,” noted a senior citizen. Elderly individuals and people with comorbidities are more likely to experience severe disease, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19; and Telemedicine has made a risky commute or visit to the doctor unnecessary.
“All the hospitals turned us down, we had no choice but to go back home and wait for our queue. Good thing we have our … doctor who can see to us while we wait,” said a patient who enrolled in a new Telemedicine service for self-isolating COVID-19 patients: Tele Home Care Program.
The Tele Home Care service is “a telemedicine-based consultation and monitoring program for COVID-19 patients,” explained Tarectecan, who also heads the program.
This offer is well-integrated into the MACE App. Those who had tested positive for COVID-19 can request a teleconsultation to get assessed and, if endorsed by the doctor, can go on to register for the service. The patient simply must maintain a record of their vital signs and upload these to the web daily. They will receive constant monitoring and assistance from a doctor and a nurse in the process.
The establishment of telehealth choices, which involves the provision of medical interventions through information and communication technologies, predates the pandemic. However, this had not experienced widespread adoption until COVID-19 came along.
Convenience was already a strong point before. Connectivity and access to devices aren’t an issue for many Filipinos. But telemedicine’s advantages became so much more apparent in the context of lockdowns and the general difficulty and risk of moving around.
“MediCard has been offering Telemedicine since even before the pandemic, and we have seen the growth of the number of users of this service over time,” said Montoya. “With the pandemic, we had to increase our capacity and range of telemedicine services to accommodate the growing demand from our clients. This demand is never ceasing, and we are always working to improve and make the experience easier for our clients.”
The benefits go beyond the individual as telehealth also relieves pressure on distressed healthcare systems.
Communication over a phone call or chat reduces facetime and physical contact for the limited number of health workers, all of whom are overworked at this point. As an added level of screening, telemedicine also prevents tedious hospital transfers, helps allocate hospital beds and equipment to severe and critical cases, and provides a buffer ensuring COVID-19 patients aren’t mixed with other cases.
“With long lines at hospital emergency rooms and COVID-19 referral facilities, Telemedicine makes it possible for patients to get expert medical advice and proper medical management remotely while they wait to be accommodated in their hospital or facility of choice,” Tarectecan said.
“Telemedicine right now is the major support structure of our frontline response to COVID-19,” concluded Montoya.
Thanks to the benefits of MediCard Telemedicine and other telehealth platforms over the pandemic, it isn’t hard to comprehend why many experts believe these options will remain useful and in-demand long after COVID-19.