The Corona Pandemic spiked reliance on technology in various industries, including the health sector.
With restricted movement measures put in place to prevent the spreading of the virus, the health sector in Kenya had to find a way to relay their services at a time they were critically needed.
That’s how healthcare providers in the country adopted sensational telemedicine technology.
Telemedicine has been operational for years in other countries like the US, but it gained momentum in countries like Kenya after the Corona pandemic hit hard.
So, what is telemedicine?
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the virtual process through which healthcare providers administer medical services to patients.
The whole process is entirely online, where through video or audio calls, health experts engage patients in real time for diagnosis, monitoring medication progress, and prescribing medication.
Among conditions that patients can rely on telemedicine for diagnosis and treatment include flu, infected cuts, birth control, diarrhea, insect bites, and more.
How Telemedicine Works
A few things play a part in facilitating telemedicine services.
The services are rendered through online portals, software, or an app.
Patients and providers need stable internet, a laptop or computer, and a web camera.
A patient accesses telemedicine services by logging into accounts, and through a video or audio call, the doctor issues a diagnosis and treatment plan after assessing the patient.
Telehealth vs. Telemedicine
Most people think telehealth and telemedicine have an ordinary meaning, but that isn’t the case.
Telehealth comprehensively covers both clinical and non-clinical aspects of healthcare through video and audio.
Telemedicine falls under telehealth but is confined to clinical services, which include diagnosing, treating, and monitoring a patient’s health condition.
Benefits of Telemedicine Services
The onset of telemedicine in Kenya has brought about several benefits, such as the following:
- Hospitals decongesting: Telemedicine enables patients to get services requiring them to visit a health facility hence helping decongest hospitals.
- Cost-friendly: You save on transport and fuel costs and only pay for online consultation and prescribed drugs.
- Time-saving: Sometimes visiting a hospital means spending hours in long queues, but telemedicine may take an hour or less, allowing you to return to work.
- Instant reach: Telemedicine allows the sick to connect with healthcare providers from any location as long as they have the right tools for communication
- Privacy: In telemedicine, it’s just you and the doctor, unlike when you run into someone you know when you visit the hospital. It also gives most patients the courage to make inquiries they wouldn’t make during a physical consultation.
Sure, telemedicine has its fair share of challenges. The most prevalent ones are as follows:
- Digital illiteracy: Some people in Kenya, especially the older generation, are not used to using technology in their lives. Using a webcam or accessing online services may limit access to telemedicine unless someone guides them.
- Connectivity limitations: Some Kenyan locations do not enjoy stable internet connection because telecommunication companies haven’t invested in those areas, thus making it hard to use telemedicine services.
- Cannot handle emergencies: Telemedicine may be efficient in handling some medical situations but not delicate ones like strokes and broken bones.
- Lack of insurance coverage: Health insurance companies have not fully gravitated towards covering telemedicine services, prompting patients to pay for the services using other means
Telemedicine Companies in Kenya
Several healthcare providers in Kenya have gone the telemedicine way, and more continue to jump on the wagon.
The following telemedicine companies are enabling doctors to render their services online:
- Bliss@Home from Bliss Healthcare
- Nyumbani Medics
Besides the companies highlighted above, several hospitals, such as MP-Shah, KTRRH, Gertrude’s, and Agha-Khan, also offer telemedicine services to their patients.
What’s the latest in Kenyan Telemedicine Practice?
The spread of Corona Virus has since decreased, but that hasn’t disrupted telemedicine services in the country.
More healthcare practitioners from, dentists, pharmacists, dermatologists, and cardiologists, continue to embrace these services.
The general public, on the other hand, continues receiving awareness of telemedicine services.