Bahrain benefits from shift to ‘telemedicine’
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Bahrain’s shift to telemedicine during this time of pandemic has helped deliver necessary healthcare services and preserve the safety of patients and medical personnel, according to a report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Kingdom.
The report entitled “Physical Health and Psychological Role of Telemedicine during the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Kingdom of Bahrain” provides an analysis on the impact of a pandemic on the daily life as well as on the physical and psychological health of individuals.
In particular, it outlines the benefits of using telemedicine mechanism during this global health crisis and ways to develop it in the future. Dr Fatima Al Subaie, research fellow at the Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat) and the principal investigator in the report preparation team, said: “Our results provide a better understanding of the psychological effects of the pandemic on the population of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the necessary measures in this context, and recommendations for developing telemedicine for the public interest.”
The report states that the Kingdom’s inevitable switch to the practice of telemedicine has prevented the disruption of vital medical services in hospitals, resulted in the delivery of necessary care to all health cases, and led to achieving a better level of efficiency.
Other benefits of this model practice include developing coordination and cooperation in the healthcare sector, and redesigning models and procedures for joint work between service providers, which led to the launch of new services in the fields of insurance and drug delivery during these challenging times.
However, the telemedicine experience encounters several challenges during the pandemic, most notably the absence of health insurance for some private-sector telemedicine service providers, the difficulty of using technology for some patients and medical staff, and restrictions on prescription for controlled psychiatric medications.
The report has made key recommendations such as the need to pay attention to the development of telemedicine as a future industry with social and economic benefits, and to set well-studied and effective standards for practising this field with the latest methods and technologies.
Likewise, it recommends the need to employ smart digital applications more broadly in health care and services, and to continue interaction and cooperation between all parties to the healthcare sector.
In general, according to the report, it is necessary to raise the quality of healthcare and facilitate access to it in the Kingdom.
The report also shows that the population in Bahrain has gone through remarkable changes in behaviour and lifestyle, including exercise, as well as eating and sleeping habits, which have affected the ability of some patients to self-care and manage diabetes.
It notes that there has been an increase in visits of patients from age between 18 and 45 years old to diabetes clinics.
There is a general decrease in inpatient visits to hospitals for fear of infection during the early stages of the pandemic.