Thai investment in telemedicine paying off during pandemic

After years of investing in telemedicine and other measures to provide citizens in remote areas with healthcare services, investments are finally paying off for Thailand’s National Health Security Office (NHSO) in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fears that health issues would go untreated as many patients were advised to avoid crowds at hospitals have turned around Thailand’s healthcare scheme since the early period of the pandemic.

“Finally, our three-step efforts: telemedicine; visits to distant areas by healthcare workers; and delivery networks for prescription medications for those unable to leave their homes, have played an invaluable role in containing the domestic spread of Covid-19,” said Dr. Rattaphon Triemwichanon, Assistant to the Secretary-General of the NHSO.

These services are all part of the NHSO’s “Long Term Care” service, launched in 2016 to assist 1.3 million bed-ridden patients who could not travel to state hospitals. The NHSO estimates the need for these services to go up over 20 million by 2040.

It has been more and more essential to keep the connection between patients and hospitals, while maintaining social distancing and ensuring that patients in remote areas are being well treated with proper care.

“The hospital pharmacy communicates with me using an application to make sure that I take the correct dose of my prescribed medicines and there are no side effects.” Somsak Kampang, a 63-year-old patient at Lamphun Hospital, a northern Thai province, said while collecting his medicine near his work after tele-consulting with the doctor.

These medicine pick-up services have reduced the average number of hospital visits per patient from six a year to just two and cover a wide range of medication.

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