Global Health Asia-Pacific Special Issue - Page 74

Thailand
“ We have seen a 220 percent increase in call volume and a 400 percent increase in drug delivery during the last two years .”
Buranut Limjitti
Telemedicine helped cope with disruption to healthcare COVID-19 prevention measures , from social distancing and lockdowns to local healthcare service providers prioritising COVID patient management , had disrupted many conventional daily healthcare practices during the pandemic . One example is traditional doctorpatient interactions during medical appointments and follow-up care at hospitals and clinics . With face-toface meetings strongly discouraged to prevent the spread of COVID-19 , healthcare institutions resorted to their digital infrastructures and telemedicine to reach out to patients confined to their homes . Also referred to as telehealth , telemedicine involves virtual appointments between patients and medical practitioners using a computer or mobile device .
Samitivej Hospital was the first Thai private hospital to practice telemedicine in March 2019 . Leloup explained that while the early rollout of telemedicine was slow due to technical limitations , the pandemic drove the hospital staff to make online consultations the new norm . “ We have seen a 220 percent increase in call volume and a 400 percent increase in drug delivery during the last two years . Moreover , we have added speciality care consultation with the addition of 600 speciality physicians to our telemedicine platform ,” he said . Initially designed for primary care and emergency response consultations , the telemedicine system has dramatically changed to enable patients to interact with clinical specialists such as cardiologists , gastroenterologists , and neurologists .
At BDMS , the teleconsultation services carried out during the COVID lockdowns had also received positive feedback from local and international patients . “ It enables patients anywhere to access our BDMS specialists through a local doctor in their own country and their language and engage with our care teams before even coming to Thailand ”, Limjitti said , adding that patients could establish a good rapport with the hospital staff and gain a better understanding of their treatment plan through preliminary interactions . “ We think it is absolutely critical that patients can ask questions and feel comfortable and are engaged in their treatment , and this is one way we do this .”
Limjitti explained that telemedicine was only the start of BDMS ’ ambitions to cultivate a digital healthcare ecosystem and develop a “ smart hospital ” for patient comfort . Some of its digital tools include the application of artificial intelligence ( AI ) for diagnosis , virtual health consultations , automated drug delivery , and cloud computing for health data . In addition , BDMS says it strives to constantly improve its telemedicine services by developing an array of mobile apps such as BDMS Wellness , “ B With You ”, and BeDee - Telehealth to ensure a more positive patient experience . The BDMS Wellness app offers a range of robust features such as appointment scheduling , personal health data summaries , and doctor profiles , while the “ B With You ” app allows real-time tracking of patient movement on the hospital grounds before and after treatment . The app also provides advice on precautions and valuable health information related to the patient on how to prepare before , during , and after surgery . The BeDee – Telehealth is the hospital ’ s most recent digital healthcare tool that offers comprehensive health services , including teleconsultations , a tele-pharmacy service , and access to a Health Mall .
BDMS recently invested in genomics with the goal of becoming a leader in using genetic testing to improve prevention and treatment for each patient . Limjitti is optimistic this will be a game changer and believes that the future of technology is essential for improving patient care and treatment outcomes .
Samitivej Hospital also promotes healthcare and data digitisation by offering cutting-edge services such as AI , digital imaging , robotic surgery , and remote assisted care . Leloup explained that the interlacing of medicine and technology was now ubiquitous , which would accelerate the rate of medical service innovation . “ We also have started to work on a predictive algorithm to foresee one ’ s health developments based on historical data . The widespread use of electronic medical records makes healthcare information accessible and computable ,” he said .
With the pandemic now under relative control and patients feeling safer about returning to hospitals ,
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