May 19, 2021 The Rise of Telehealth in Pakistan
The pandemic has changed the course of our economy, society, and healthcare. It has presented unprecedented challenges to the already shaky framework of the healthcare system in Pakistan. Today, doctor to patient ratio in Pakistan is at an alarming 1 to 1300, and to make it worse, patients are struggling to find beds in hospitals.
On the flipside, the dearth of physical availability of doctors has catalyzed rapid adoption of remote health services and has forced Pakistanis to adapt telehealth, which has now become the need of the hour, to say the least. Telehealth isn’t new to the world, but the COVID-19 crisis has put technology at the center of healthcare in Pakistan. Due to the widespread and high contagiousness of the disease, many doctors and patients prefer to avoid in-person appointments. In Addition to giving telehealth a boost, the pandemic has also fostered the rise of innovative medical services, everything from getting online prescriptions to getting medicines home delivered to home-based and drive-through virus testing and lab-based vaccinations.
What is Telehealth?
The term telehealth refers to delivering any kind of healthcare at a distance, without direct physical contact with the patient. Telehealth happens through telephones, videos, in-app/portal messages, etc. While it has some limitations for now, the benefits are already far greater.
Telehealth overcomes physical barriers to connect patients with the right doctors and access to convenient medical care. Healthcare systems that had adopted telehealth continue to ensure the continuity of patient care during this pandemic, particularly in the midst of “stay at home” orders and physical distancing guidelines, while also reducing community wide spread of the virus. Telehealth is useful in helping balance the supply of clinical services with increased demand across physical and geographical boundaries. Telehealth is helping to manage on going chronic illnesses and COVID-19 triage, also helping curb the spread by keeping non urgently sick patients out of the hospitals
How and Where to Access Telehealth?
Many health-tech startups have surfaced in the past year and a half. One such example is that of AugmentCare – a telehealth startup founded in 2017 and currently Pakistan’s leading telemedicine service that provides convenient and affordable access to consultations with PMDC certified doctors, anywhere and at any time. Users simply need to download the app and choose the type of doctor they wish to speak with. As AugmentCare promises, with just a few taps, you can consult with a doctor via video from the comfort of home or office in under 7 minutes. Moreover, these consultations are priced well below standard fees, therefore ensuring affordable healthcare for the masses.
Aman Foundation in Karachi and Ipas are both offering telehealth services, with the latter providing women and girls with an alternative way to get reproductive health counseling. Moreover, ChughtaiLab is providing drive-through test, home sampling and radiology services across the country.
As reported by Tribune Pakistan: “Guruprasad Gaonkar, the cloud ERP and digital supply chain global go-to market leader at Oracle Corporation said, ‘2021 will be seen as the year when we moved from discussing the future of healthcare to making real investments… There are many areas where we have seen that technology is already shaping the healthcare of the future, accelerated by the urgent need to address the Covid pandemic.”