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Are online GP appointments the future of healthcare? Experts debate lessons taught by pandemic
29 May 2020 @ 17:31

ONLINE or telephone GP appointments and other consultations could be the future of healthcare – and its potential was discussed in a video-conference meeting with over 40 experts in the field this week.

E-Salud, Cambio de Modelo Sanitario y Covid-19 ('E-Health: Change in Healthcare Approaches and Covid-19') organised in part by the Merck Health Foundation started from the premise, cited by its CEO Carmen González Madrid (top left in the photograph) that the pandemic has led to a sharp rise in use of technology between patients and doctors and that this could be taken advantage of and developed further.

Tools including Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, video-conferences, telephone-based assistance and 'online medicine' were examined from a bio-ethical, legal and patients' viewpoint.

Head of Healthcare Legal Advisors Fernando Abellán (top row, second from left, in the photograph) said: “There are reasons to believe that the processes and pace of 'digital health' are set to speed up.

“The risk of contagion is going to be around for a long while and will extend the need to use technology to reduce the presence of patients in hospitals and surgeries.”

A 'Five Ps' approach, proposed by medical director of Madrid's San Carlos Clinical University Hospital Julio Mayol (top row, second in from right in the photograph), could be the starting point: Prediction, prevention, personalisation, population-wide, and participative.

“With this crisis, during it and before it, our priorities include changing leadership methods and cultures – we need to seek leadership that transforms, in all fields of society, and offer a vision of the future,” Dr Mayol says.

“We need to reinforce the idea of health against disease; what we've seen is that when public health is affected en masse, the health service becomes overwhelmed – a crisis in providing medical services, and a crisis that's present throughout the health-sickness cycle among society.”

Geriatrician Dr Salomé Martín (top right), head of technical development at Eulen Social Health, stresses that the elderly population's ability to adapt to new technology is underestimated.



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