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COVID-19 has illustrated how telemedicine can help developing countries and has put the spotlight on the need to build technological infrastructures

  • By
  • IMPROVATE
  • May 21 2020

COVID-19 has illustrated the enormity of medical challenges faced by developing countries. Technology has a critical role in responding to this and other health crises, as well as in the general upgrading of health
systems and provision of access to medical services and specialized medicine.

One technology that stands out is telemedicine, defined by the World Health Organization  (WHO) as “the delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation…”

In countries with a small number of physicians relative to population size, with poor access to specialized medicine and a rural population in need of health services, the rapid growth of the internet and the proliferation of smartphones has the potential to
greatly expand medical services through the use of telemedicine.

One such example, developed in Israel, is TytoCare, which has developed a solution that can measure the body’s vital signs and transmit results directly to a doctor. It’s compact device, half the size of smartphone, enables virtual diagnosis of the throat, ears and lungs, as well as skin, heart and digestive problems.

The device has been used at Sheba Medical Center as part of its zero-contact COVID-19 monitoring protocols, along with other solutions developed in Israel, such as Datos, a phone app that facilitates diagnostic readouts together with personalized video contact with doctors.

“Healthcare is marching towards telemedicine.” – Ami Applebaum, Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority

The pandemic has accelerated technological uptake and acceptance of telemedicine and illustrated how it can play a major role in medical care: Telemedicine can be used as a frontline technology in triage, diagnosis and care, reducing exposure of medical staff to disease; allowing medical centers to provide remote monitoring, decision support and diagnostics without the need to present on site.

However, it has also put the spotlight on lack of infrastructure in poorer regions and the need for coordinated effort from government and regulators on the one hand and tech firms on the other in order to transfer to developing nations telemedicine templates used with great success in the developed world.

Telemedicine also offers huge market potential. The global market was valued at $45 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to at least $155 billion by 2026. With the market in its infancy in developing nations, growth can be expected to be rapid.

IMPROVATE helps developing nations connect to innovative technologies and solutions across the health spectrum and beyond as one of the major bridges to telemedicine is poor information and communications technologies that are needed to build the foundations for telemedicine applications. 

As a bridge between technology and developing nations, IMPROVATE connects health technology companies to industry leaders building the next generation of health services in the developing world.

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