Published online Mar 16, 2022. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v10.i8.2363
Peer-review started: September 3, 2021
First decision: December 1, 2021
Revised: December 11, 2021
Accepted: January 27, 2022
Article in press: January 27, 2022
Published online: March 16, 2022
In this article, we discuss evidence supporting the effective implementation of eHealth, telehealth, and telemedicine during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, with a view towards its permanent future integration in healthcare. We performed a literature search for articles describing the use of telehealth/ telemedicine in the pandemic context using five databases. The articles selected describe the use of telemedicine as its advantages in terms of practicality and cost-effectiveness. This synthesis of articles is applicable to high-, middle- and low-income countries. Some of the notable benefits include breaking down geographical and time barriers, reducing waiting lists and crowding in healthcare facilities, and saving on national healthcare expenditure. However, there are a number of difficulties with the widespread implementation of telemedicine services that mainly relate to bureaucratic and regulatory concerns. Moreover, it is also important to make healthcare professionals and providers aware of the limits of this tool to avoid potential cases of negligence. Patients in turn will have to be made aware of and be educated on the use of this new healthcare modality before it is accepted by them. In the current socio-economic climate, it is therefore essential to implement a telehealth model aimed at efficiency and continuity of healthcare, as well as leading to an improvement in the quality of life of patients, whilst optimising existing resources and reducing costs. In that regard, the adoption of eHealth, telehealth, and telemedicine services should be considered highly timely, despite current existing limitations.
Core Tip: In an attempt to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019, increasing pressure was placed on the healthcare sector to adapt to challenge of delivering care, thereby necessitating the adoption of innovative telehealth solutions to both ensure and optimize patient care. This has resulted in the accelerated development, utilisation and acceptability of telemedicine in several fields. In this sense, the current pandemic presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for countries to implement appropriate telemedicine services. As healthcare continues to evolve and innovate, one of the main shifts in practice that we are likely to experience will be the growing use of digital healthcare technologies.