News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Nov. 5, 2021: Telehealth is the delivery of health and medical services using communication technologies. This allows a remote consultation between doctors and patients, which enables social distancing practices during the pandemic. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, telehealth is able to offer more equitable, efficient and effective ways to improve access to healthcare. This form of healthcare is transformative, especially for rural communities as it eliminates the need for transportation, shortens waiting times, cuts costs and offers a larger range of healthcare for rural communities.
The pandemic has been a catalyst for innovative telehealth services, as well as innovations in dentistry. This article will explore these innovations and how they have transformed how Caribbean people are able to receive health care.
Effective telehealth in the Caribbean
Even though telehealth consultations are not face to face with physical contact, they still need to have the same safeguards as normal consultations do. Firstly, there has to be trust between the patient and doctor. This can be gained by ensuring confidentiality and by using videoconferencing between the doctor and patient. Secondly, the participants in the consultation have to be identifiable, and their identity needs to be verifiable. Again, this is best achieved by using videoconferencing. Thirdly, consent is required for the consultation. Whether it will only be a consultation, if it is recorded, or if photos are taken for evidence or to make a diagnosis, consent is always required. Telehealth being utilised correctly during the pandemic has a range of benefits, such as:
Being able to triage patients with symptomsAt-risk patients are able to have remote surveillanceA minimization of COVID-19 transmittanceHealthcare workers are kept saferAllows frontline workers to consult with specialists without a long waiting periodChronic disease care is able to continueAllows physicians and healthcare works to do their job, or a part of it, even during quarantining if need beRelieves the strain on the local health care workforce
Telehealth innovations in the Caribbean
MDLink is a Caribbean telehealth provider. MDLink has been licensed for all CARICOM countries. Examples of these are Jamaica, Haiti, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, with the list being much more expansive. MDLink boasts having over 10,000 patients and over 300 doctors across the Caribbean. According to Dr. Che Bowen, MDLink’s founder and CEO, MDLink is in the process of registering many more doctors. Dr Bowen has also stated that the platform has assisted in curbing the number of COVID-19 infections across the Caribbean, seeing that patients did not have to leave their home to see a doctor. Telehealth innovations by MDLink in the Caribbean is their launch of a COVID-19 AI Chatbot. They also launched MDLink Therapy, which focuses on mental health services. MDLink Therapy will assist in the management and treatment of patients through telepsychiatry and a range of other tools.
Smile Prep covers innovative clear aligner providers that make at-home clear aligner treatment possible using telehealth. This innovation, which is at-home teeth straightening services, are offered by online companies to assist their clients to get straighter teeth from home. Companies like Byte and SmileDirectClub review dental scans and create clear aligner treatment plans for their clients. Many of these companies also use remote monitoring technology which allows dentists to keep track of the patient’s progress and make treatment adjustments if needed.
How this works is that clients would have to submit an impression kit or teeth scans. These will then be analyzed to create a digital model of the teeth, as well as aligners, by specialized software. This has been proven to work if the client has a mild case, and has been proven to be much cheaper than Invisalign or braces. Most importantly, it reduces the need for physical contact between dentists and patients, ensuring social distancing practices. Before selecting an aligner provider, potential clients should explore Smile Prep to discover the best options here.
Seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be lasting longer than expected, the use of innovative tools has been necessary to serve clients and offer suitable healthcare. The use of telehealth has been proven to be an effective way to maintain the doctor-patient relationship while ensuring social distancing practices are maintained. Telehealth innovations, such as MDLink and Smile Prep, have been the leading forms of telehealth in the Caribbean offering a wide range of services catering to the needs of the people.