After the pandemic, we are in the era of telemedicine

After the pandemic, we are in the era of telemedicine

After the pandemic, the era of telemedicine awaits us, i.e. more e-visits and remote medical consultations - believes Prof. Konrad Rejdak from Lublin. As an example, he mentions neurology, which - as he emphasizes - should become a priority area.

A specialist who is the president-elect of the Polish Neurological Society claims that telemedicine has proven itself during the pandemic. "E-waivers and e-prescriptions simplified procedures and largely saved the medical care system," he emphasized during the virtual press conference "Neurology 2020".

In his opinion, in the future, after the pandemic, we will face an era of telemedicine - there will be more e-visits and remote medical consultations, as well as remote conferences. Rather, direct contacts will only take place when they prove necessary.

"Remote medical consultations are very important, ie teams that consult each other remotely and discuss specific patients' cases" - he emphasized. Such consultations are held more and more often in various fields of medicine, e.g. in oncology. Imaging tests, e.g. of the brain, can be sent via the Internet and discussed on an ongoing basis by specialists from various centers.

Even complex operations are consulted remotely. A few days ago, in the hospital at ul. Banach in Warsaw, the first in Poland was performed percutaneous cryoablation of kidney cancer under the control of computed tomography. The procedure lasted about 3 hours and was remotely supervised by Dr. Patrick Knüsel, an interventional radiologist from Switzerland.

Dr. Grzegorz Rosiak, MD, PhD, who led the procedure, explained to PAP that Dr. Knüsel had a constant view of tomography, ultrasound, ablation apparatus and the operating field. Remote supervision of the procedure allowed to avoid the risk of infection, which is associated with travel during the pandemic.

Telemedicine can contribute to reducing the cost of medical care. This is especially important in neurology, dealing with diseases such as strokes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. This field generates huge direct costs, due to expensive therapies, and indirect costs, because it is often associated with patients' disabilities.

"We need to adapt our medical care system to this huge social and medical challenge" - emphasized prof. Konrad Rejdak. Fortunately, in neuroscience, there have been tremendous advances in imaging diagnosis and therapy in recent years; it can also be used by patients in Poland. "There are many drug programs, the therapies used in them often lead to cure even of serious diseases" - he added.

The specialist warned, however, that neurology in our country, as in the rest of the world, awaits many challenges. "The number of patients with neurological diseases increases, because our society is aging, and in addition, they are often patients with many diseases, requiring multi-specialist treatment" - he indicated.

The Polish Neurological Society postulates that neurology should be recognized as a priority field, and brain diseases should be a priority for health policy for the next 20 years. “We have to do this as many patients will require neurological care. At the same time, in terms of access to services, the chances of patients in different regions of the country should be equalized. Because we need the same standard of medical care for everyone, ”believes prof. Rejdak.

The Society wants to improve the standards of care, especially in large and overloaded hospitals, and reduce its costs by organizing the billing system. The burden of care should also be shifted from hospitals to outpatient centers.

"There must be a reference of centers, there is a need for highly specialized hospitals, serving as centers of excellence, cooperating with centers of a lower level" - claims the president-elect of the Polish Neurological Society. In this way, a two-way path of care would be built for patients who would first be treated at a reference center and then returned to facilities close to their place of residence. (PAP)

author: Zbigniew Wojtasiński