Telemedicine UAE: Access Healthcare from the Comfort of your Home12 Jan, 2023
Are you aware about telemedicine- the latest trend in healthcare? Read to know all about the benefits of telemedicine and how it is shaping telehealth facilities in UAE.
Telemedicine and healthcare in UAE
Telemedicine refers to the usage of telecommunication, audio and video software to administer treatment to patients as an alternative to in-person visits to a healthcare facility. The use of telemedicine in healthcare is beneficial to both health and convenience.
As an industry, telemedicine has grown since the outbreak of Covid-19. Telemedicine is steadily becoming a norm in healthcare, as it minimizes contact between doctors and patients, reducing the spread of illnesses such as Covid-19.
The first use of telemedicine can be traced back to the 20th century with the use of radios to provide medical assistance. In hospitals, telemedicine was initially used in psychiatric consultations conducted through a closed-circuit TV.
Telemedicine, in the present day, is gaining popularity as more hospitals provide consultations through smart apps and video platforms. Read more to know about the benefits of telemedicine and how it is shaping the healthcare industry.
Quick Read Section:
- Telemedicine is a new trend in healthcare in the UAE that allows patients to consult with doctors remotely.
- The benefits of telemedicine include increased access to care, lower costs, and improved patient outcomes.
- Telemedicine is made possible by advances in technology, including high-speed internet and video conferencing platforms.
- Virtual doctor for Covid-19, DOH Remotecare app, Doctor for every citizen are some of the telemedicine initiatives started by UAE.
Benefits of Telemedicine
The need for telemedicine increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the cases of Covid-19 spread, there still existed the need to take care of patients suffering from other illnesses. Telemedicine came to the rescue of healthcare, by providing a virtual medium for doctors to treat patients suffering from chronic illnesses with minimal contact.
Telemedicine, which connects doctors to their patients, through audio and video appointments is advantageous to both health and convenience.
The following are some of the benefits of telemedicine:
1. Virtual Doctors just a call away
You no longer need to undertake long journeys or take leave from work to consult your doctor. Telemedicine enables patients to have online consultations with their doctors through virtual platforms. With telemedicine, you don’t have to spend long hours in the hospital waiting room.
You can access healthcare sitting in the comfort of your home, in your pajamas. Virtual consultations come as a solution to those who struggle to make time for doctor visits amidst their busy schedules.
2. Prevents the spread of infectious diseases
Telemedicine has proven to be an effective way to provide healthcare during outbreaks and epidemics. As social distancing norms are practices, minimal contact makes it difficult for hospitals to provide high-quality treatment, while prioritising patient safety. Telemedicine bridges this gap between doctors and patients by providing a contactless way of treatment through technology.
Doctors can use telemedicine to screen patients through online consultations in UAE and prevent exposure to infectious germs, by offering medical advice without contact. This helps protect the patient, as well as the doctor from the spread of infectious diseases.
Pregnant women, senior citizens, children, and those vulnerable to infectious diseases can also be protected by seeing their online doctors at home. They can visit the healthcare facilities in person, in the case of emergencies or serious complications that cannot be resolved through virtual calls.
3. Better diagnosis
Seeing patients in their primary environments through telemedicine helps specialty doctors such as allergists, psychologists, and occupational therapists to identify and diagnose the cause of their medical condition better. Telemedicine is also useful to get counselling and mental health assessments done while sitting at home.
4. Family members from across the world can join consultations
Patients can loop in trustworthy family members on call with their online doctors to discuss their medical condition. If the patient is not well or mentally unstable to ask questions, the family member can ask in their stead and note down the answers.
5. Connect to your regular doctor with ease
Telemedicine ensures that regular patients are connected with the doctor they wish to see. The advanced telemedicine system makes sure that new patients are connected to the next available doctor so that patients can continue to consult their regular doctor online.
This saves time and ensures that patients continue to receive the same care they do, while visiting the hospital premises.
Telemedicine in UAE
These are the telemedicine initiatives launched by the government in UAE:
- Doctor for every citizen- Available on App Store and Google Play
UAE’s Dubai Health Authority (DHA) started a smart service called ‘Doctor for every citizen’ in 2019 which provides all-day remote medical consultations through video calls and voice calls. The service was initially only available for Emiratis. But after the spread of Covid-19, it was extended to all residents of Dubai.
The service provides preliminary consultations and follow-ups with DHA-certified doctors. The physician can issue online prescriptions and request for submission of lab reports. Doctor for every citizen seeks to bring doctors closer to their patients and use the best-advanced technology and practitioners to serve UAE citizens. It aims to reach high levels of virtual healthcare and communication to provide access to healthcare to citizens from anywhere at any time.
- Virtual Doctor for COVID-19
As the name suggests, Virtual Doctor for Covid-19 is a chatbot service launched by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) in UAE. It was widely used during the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020 by people to remotely examine whether they were showing symptoms of Covid.
The interactive virtual doctor chatbot asks queries about the concerned person’s close contacts, travel history, symptoms, health risks, and habits. The chatbot is intelligently programmed to diagnose if the person chatting with it is at risk. If found to be at risk, the Virtual doctor immediately connects the patient to a DHA-approved medical practitioner at a hospital.
- The DOH RemoteCare app
Launched by the Department of Health-Abu Dhabi (DOH), the RemoteCare app enables people to receive healthcare from their homes, without having to physically step into a hospital. The app makes use of AI tools to make preliminary diagnoses, examine symptoms and book virtual appointments with doctors through voice or video calls.
The platform provides healthcare access to all citizens in a safe and convenient environment. The app can be used to request online prescriptions, book online appointments with doctors, and get the necessary information and guidelines related to medical conditions. The live-chat feature of the app skilfully examines non-emergency cases and symptoms, which it then sends through a video link to a healthcare specialist.
- Virtual Outpatient Clinic (VOPC)
The Telemedicine Virtual Outpatient Clinic was introduced in 2020 by the Abu Dhabi health services company (SEHA). It was created to enhance healthcare services and ensure that medical assistance reaches all those who require them. The use of VOPC services is particularly beneficial to chronic patients who require constant follow-ups. It saves them the trouble of visiting a healthcare facility for non-emergency purposes.
SEHA’s online clinic offers virtual doctor visits which provide diagnoses and preliminary care from a distance. The service ensures protection of high-risk groups like infants and senior citizens. It expands access to healthcare, improving quality of healthcare for critical patients, who require in-person visits.
Telemedicine services are also offered by hospital networks such as
- Aster hospitals
- Emirates Specialty Hospital
- Saudi German Hospital
In today's digital age, healthcare is on the cusp of change. New technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain and mobile devices are transforming care delivery, helping patients with their health and providing doctors with accurate patient data.
The healthcare industry is rapidly adopting digital health tools to help enhance and improve treatment in a cost-effective manner. Usage of machine learning, automation and AI increase efficiency, productivity, and accuracy while reducing costs.
As the telemedicine and telecommunications continues to grow advanced with technology, it will provide patients with greater access to healthcare. Patients will be able to benefit from a more patient-centric healthcare system in the future, thanks to the development of telemedicine.
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