The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

Everyone knows a woman who has effortlessly taken on a myriad of tasks to care of their family, friends, coworkers and loved ones. They may be a mom, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, nurse, community health worker or even yourself. Women are usually the caregiver or leader in making health choices for their families. Women take on all these different roles, sometimes doing three of them at the same time, so how can we support them?

In rural Arizona, many residents struggle with access to services, transportation, and a living wage job. At the same time, health care providers contend with keeping a vibrant skilled workforce to meet the needs in their community. This policy brief from the National Rural Health Association outlines how rural women face several barriers including lack of health insurance, unemployment, high rates of chronic medical conditions, maternal morbidity and mortality, aging issues and intimate partner violence. As a result, there exists many health disparities among women and their families.

Let’s face it. For many people in the USA, the language services industry (translation and interpreting) is an unknown field. Sure, they know about the translators who work at the UN, but beyond that, there isn’t any real comprehension of what translators and interpreters do, let alone what distinguishes a professional in these fields from a “bilingual” or what the difference between a translator and an interpreter is.

But the language services field is a $5 billion-a-year industry in the USA (https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/translation-services-industry/).That’s a pretty big paycheck for something that seems like a well-kept secret. And a good portion of that industry is in the medical domain. So, there are many players in the field competing for those dollars. But how do you tell the good ones from the bad? How do you make sure that the language service provider you are working with is professional and will deliver quality services? There are several ways you can ensure that you are getting a quality product.

As with any healthcare innovation that is disruptive in nature, it takes validation and time, as well as the right catalyst before it gets completely embraced by the global community as a feasible solution. With the ongoing COVID-19 global health emergency, one such innovation that acquired center stage for being highly functional and transformed healthcare delivery in a never-seen-before manner was telemedicine.  

Just last year, telemedicine grew from less than 1% of primary care visits to nearly 43.5% in a mere span of two months (February to April). 

With telemedicine’s current rapid adoption rate and trajectory, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this state-of-the-art innovation holds the potential to turn the medical industry completely upside-down, redefining the way in which health systems deliver care, operate, and manage costs. This will further set the foundation for a highly optimized and tailored healthcare experience in the future.

To illustrate the impact telemedicine will make in the future, we have come up with a few predictions backed by robust statistical data. 

Teledentistry is the union of dentistry and telehealth (or telemedicine).  The state of the union is very strong.

The Telehealth industry is booming.  The Covid-19 virus changed everything.  Research by McKinsey & Company reveals that while only 11 percent of consumers used telehealth in 2019, 46 percent were using these remote services by May of 2020 to replace canceled office visits. [1]  McKinsey went further to predict that the telehealth industry could grow to a quarter of a trillion dollars. (2)  Telehealth investment, according to the Mercom Capital group venture finding in digital health in 2020 came to $14.8 billion. 3  Telemedicine was the top funded category and led Venture Capital funding activity with $4.3 billion, a 139% Year-Over-Year increase compared to $1.8 billion in 2019.

The global surge in coronavirus cases in early 2020 caused an almost overnight disruption to clinical services. A solution for continuing critical clinical care of all patients alongside the need to minimize human-to-human contact had to be found quickly.

In April, Mediclinic Middle East rolled out its coordinated telemedicine service. This allowed patients who would typically attend one of our units in person to access assistance from the comfort and safety of their homes. This is how it’s worked out so far...

What does the term “social distancing” really mean? Do we really want to be socially distant? The phrase and concept of "social distance" existed before 2020, however during the past year it may have morphed permanently into a verb in its current context.  The definitions listed @ dictionary.com explain the difference  and make me wonder if we have been promoting social distance with  the term “Social Distancing”.  I don’t believe we are using the term correctly.  This is not what we should be encouraging ourselves to do! We can’t even hug as much as we used to so let’s not go overboard with refraining from the social interaction we all crave right now.   Branding is everything – and unfortunately, we have a term branded to mean that we should “disengage” – be socially distant – as opposed to physically distant.

I think we all know by now that the pandemic has led to a dramatic surge in the use of telehealth. In Arizona, that was partly thanks to several executive orders our governor signed in March and April of 2020 expanding telehealth coverage and flexibilities for the duration of the public health emergency. (Scroll to Executive Orders 2020-07, 2020-15, and 2020-29.)

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