Coronavirus and Telehealth
What do we know about Wuhan coronavirus?
The arrival of Wuhan’s coronavirus in the United States has set off alarms. To the cases reported in South Korea, Thailand and Japan is added an affected person in the state of Washington and who had recently traveled to China. This respiratory infection is part of a large family from which we still have much to learn.
In airports like Toronto or John. F. Kennedy of New York have taken various precautionary measures – thermal cameras to analyze body temperature – and all passengers landed in China are reviewed with special caution, in what is considered a “critical stage”.
On January 22, an emergency meeting was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider the official statement and decide whether we are facing an international health emergency. The director of the Department of Public Health and Environment of this agency, the Asturian María Neira, said there is a general concern about what is recommended is prudence and perspective.
WHAT IS THE CORONAVIRUS?
According to the official WHO definition, “coronaviruses are an extensive family of viruses, some of which may be the cause of various human diseases, ranging from the common cold to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).” Its name is due to mutations, such as peaks, that protrude from its membranes, resembling the solar corona.
The new strain of coronavirus commonly called “Wuhan coronavirus” was identified by Chinese scientists on January 8. There is no certainty about the source of this pathogen.
SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS
Although not all patients manifest the same clinical picture, those infected with this type of coronavirus experience a series of symptoms. Among them are chills due to high fever, cough and mucus (nasal discharge), joint pain, feeling weak and tired, but also more serious situations such as pneumonia. These symptoms can be confused with a common cold, a viral condition that in just five days has an obvious improvement. Wuhan pneumonia also has symptoms in just a few days, but unlike a common flu picture, coronaviruses are a much more dangerous group of viruses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, as usual in these situations, it is recommended to avoid contact with affected people and not touch their eyes, nose or mouth without washing, wash their hands frequently, for 40 seconds and wear protections such as gloves or masks when in contact with farm or wild animals.
As for the affected patients who present a clear symptomatology, they are always advised to cover themselves when coughing and sneezing, maintain a safe distance, frequently discard handkerchiefs or paper and wash their hands and face often.
SOLUTION – TELEHEALTH
Fortunately, the clinical world may already have a solution — telehealth. The remote service is already used to improve health access and outcomes. For COVID-19, telehealth can be a way to help fight the virus. It would enable clinicians to triage potential patients without exposing health care workers or their communities to the virus. Beyond the benefits to the public, telehealth would also help individuals overcome barriers to getting to a clinic such as finding child care, taking off from work, using public transportation or getting to health care facilities from rural or remote areas. Crowded waiting rooms won’t need to be overrun with those anxious every time someone coughs or sneezes nearby. Crowded waiting rooms won’t need to be overrun with anxiety every time someone coughs or sneezes nearby. When an individual does fit the criteria, their clinician can instruct them how to come in for testing in the safest way.
Nowadays, telehealth is inexpensive and simple – it takes less than 5 minutes to set up a virtual clinic using a platform. They would provide a browser-based solution with secure, private video consultations and support clinical workflows. It could even provide in-call clinical tools for diagnostics and treatment. All that is needed to use a platform like this, is a stable internet connection and a modern device equipped with a speaker, microphone and camera.
How does telehealth help in a global health emergency:
- Patients who are already in a hospital can be attached to medical devices as needed, and simply see hospital staff via video consultation for checkups throughout the day. This limits physical interaction between patients and healthcare providers.
- Recent travelers to mainland China who are in a self-imposed quarantine can check in with their healthcare provider via video consultations. This reduces their need to travel to the healthcare centre and put others, or themselves at risk of contracting the disease.
- Individuals showing mild flu symptoms can check in with their healthcare provider vid video, to determine whether further action is needed.
- Geographical barriers do not exist, therefore Australian’s still in mainland China or elsewhere in the world can easily contact Australian doctors for personal health advice and information.
- Using video consultation services reduces the strain on clinics, hospitals and emergency services, ensuring resources are being used efficiently.