World Telehealth Initiative: Bringing Healthcare to Underserved Communities
How Telehealth Can Provide Aid for Those Need Around the World
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of the world’s population lacks access to essential healthcare services. In many countries and regions of the world, there simply aren’t enough healthcare providers to go around. While the United States has a doctor for every 400 people, countries like Malawi aren’t as fortunate, with one doctor for every 55,500 people.
In these underserved countries, many individuals live hundreds of miles from the nearest treatment center, and their only form of transportation is walking or biking. These treatment centers are typically staffed with general physicians, leaving many individuals without the specialized care they need to survive.
The World Telehealth Initiative (WTI), a non-profit organization committed to increasing the world’s access to healthcare using telehealth technology, is doing its best to find a solution to this global problem. Working with InTouch Health and Direct Relief, the largest provider of charitable medicines in the United States, WTI is helping people find the care they need by reducing these physical barriers, providing medical expertise to local clinicians, and reducing the overall cost of healthcare.
Bringing Healthcare to Rural Communities
In many parts of the world, individuals live several hundred miles from the closest healthcare provider. Getting to the doctor often requires a massive effort, with high costs of travel and time away from family or work. Securing a ride in rural villages like those in Malawi, Bangladesh, and Haiti can be difficult or nearly impossible for some individuals, leaving many individuals without the care they need. This includes not only treatment for various illnesses and diseases, but also preventative measures like vaccines, screenings and regular physicals.
With the help of telemedicine services, WTI is helping people receive care without traveling long distances. With the right training and equipment, these individuals can communicate with physicians and specialists in real-time without leaving their villages. While in-person consultations may still be required, patients can ask questions, receive treatment and learn more about their healthcare options using wireless digital devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets.
Provide Training to Onsite Clinicians
Delivering medical supplies to underserved communities alone won’t always increase access to healthcare. In many situations, these communities don’t have enough training or expertise to put these supplies to good use. Some communities may have an on-site clinician, but they may not have experience using some of these supplies and equipment. However, with telehealth technology, these clinicians can consult with doctors and specialists in real-time to learn more about how the equipment works and how to administer treatment to patients.
As part of its overall mission, WTI is sending traveling physicians to remote communities in Bangladesh, Malawi and Haiti. They are helping local clinicians make use of this new technology, so they can keep in touch with healthcare professionals all over the world. This ensures medical supplies are used effectively. These communities can also become more self-sufficient in providing healthcare.
Lowering the Cost of Care
Telehealth also lowers the cost of care. Telemedicine services are typically much cheaper than in-person care without affecting patient outcomes. The average virtual visit costs anywhere from $40 to $50, while in-person care can cost as much as $176 per visit without insurance.
According to the WHO, 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budgets on healthcare expenses. For almost 100 million people, these expenses push them into extreme poverty, forcing them to survive on just $1.90 or less a day. By lowering the cost of care, families and communities all over the world can get access to the care they need without going into debt or even poverty.
Telehealth and WTI are making a difference when it comes to healthcare inequality around the world. The cost of care, physical barriers, and lack of proper training keep so many people from accessing the essential health services they need to survive. This important work can also help reduce infant mortality rates and the spread of disease and infection across the globe.
InTouch Health is proud to be a partner of WTI as they work towards these milestones. Visit WTI to donate to their cause and visit InTouch Health to learn more about the benefits of telemedicine services.