One can’t deny the medical advantages of high-income countries over low- and middle-income countries. However, the disparity even within wealthy nations can prove extreme as well. Underserved communities in these countries often struggle to access the life-saving medical services available to their well-off neighbors. This inequity has led to an increasing interest in cross-border telemedicine to help remedy the problem, garnering the attention of advocates and skeptics alike regarding the novel approaches to delivering international (and intercommunal) healthcare.
As it stands, there are four influential categories that both hinder and bolster implementation: legality, sustainability, cultural relevance, and contextual relevance. Still, national telemedicine initiatives could open the door for effective cross-border services by laying the necessary infrastructure and convincing potential participants.
Implementing successful cross-border telemedicine requires leadership, training, and flexibility—coupled with a local response delivered at affordable prices with simple technology.
But what exactly does cross-border telemedicine entail? How does it work? And how can it benefit patients worldwide?
What is Cross-Border Telemedicine?
You can think of remote health services as an umbrella term for two concepts: telehealth and telemedicine. Telemedicine leverages electronic communications technologies to provide long-distance clinical health care. Meanwhile, telehealth covers a broader spectrum, including non-clinical services such as administrative meetings, continued education, and training.
Cross-border telemedicine lets doctors communicate and care for patients outside their community, state, or country. For example, if a patient gets sick on a trip and needs medical care, they could consult with their home physician remotely before seeing a local doctor.
Why Cross-Border Medical Care is Important?
Though telemedicine has come a long way, it still has some distance to travel. Several advantages and disadvantages still persist; it’s up to cutting-edge technology and cybersecurity systems to carry telemedicine into the future. Ideally, we’ll reach a point when telemedicine can even replace in-person health care for most problems.
Contagion knows no borders, and a fast-spreading disease can quickly turn a hospital into a carrier site. Thanks to telemedicine, patients won’t have to come into the hospital, assuming they can relay accurate information and provide precise answers to their doctor’s questions. Doctors can quickly diagnose and prescribe treatment for dermatological conditions or other afflictions with clear visual symptoms.
There are still a few limitations to cross-border telemedicine, however. For example, doctors can’t diagnose some conditions through basic communication channels—nor do those channels substitute for in-person treatment. But limitations aside, telemedicine can:
- Lower medical costs
- Coordinate better workflows and decrease unnecessary ER visits
- Provide real-time data on local health trends and epidemiological patterns
- Address demand surges for medical treatment
- Offer at-home patient monitoring and rehabilitation
- Allow professionals to assist during robotic or AR/VR procedures, acting as a local provider’s guide
Cross-Border Telemedicine: U.S. Healthcare and the World
The United States has a chance to lead the global health initiative. Global health systems can improve the health and well-being of people worldwide by eradicating preventable diseases, disabilities, and death. American leadership on this initiative can protect US citizens from health threats while promoting the national image on the world stage.
The Institute of Medicine—with the help of experts from around the country—lays out five actionable strategies the U.S. can take to lead the day on global health initiatives:
Leverage existing innovations to achieve health gains
We have plenty of tools—such as cross-border telemedicine—that we aren’t using to their full potential. Furthermore, these tools are relatively inexpensive and easily administered.
Cultivate and share research addressing issues endemic to the global poor
The United States is a global leader in medical research. However, much of that research (as with other wealthy nations) mainly benefits people within American borders. By opening the coffers to global research, the US can also give those in low and middle-income countries the attention they need.
Global investments in people, buildings, and institutions
Developing solutions is only half the battle. The U.S. and other wealthy leaders must also put the local infrastructure in place to address these health issues on the ground.
Increase financial commitment to global health
Research, training, infrastructure, and implementation all cost money. The U.S. made some serious commitments between 2001 and 2009. Now’s the time to increase those commitments to build a healthier future.
Be an example
As the largest funder of several international organizations, the U.S. has an opportunity to set an example of what global health partnership should look like.
Benefits of Bilingual/Multilingual Healthcare
We live in an interconnected, multicultural world full of unique languages. However, pain and illness strike speakers of every dialect just the same, exemplifying the need for bi- and multilingual telemedicine professionals to provide accurate diagnoses in cross-border settings.
Communicating with patients in their native tongues helps alleviate the anxious feelings associated with a hospital visit. This is especially important in telemedicine when non-verbal cues aren’t related as easily. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that patients showed increased satisfaction and well-being when providers spoke their native languages.
Multilingual providers also make more accurate diagnoses. While interpreters can bridge the gap, doctors and patients should be on the same page, especially regarding pain and symptom descriptions. Nurses can also play a significant role in this conversation, as they tend to have the most personal contact with patients.
What Services Are Included in Cross-Border Telemedicine?
Cloud-based solutions are the cornerstone of remote healthcare. Providers lean on cloud services to offer patients high-quality care from as far as half a world away. After settling a few legal hurdles, cross-border telemedicine can provide quality healthcare to treat many conditions, bolster information exchange, and more—and several nations are already leveraging its capabilities.
For example, medical experts in Romania used telemedicine to strengthen collaboration with Moldovan healthcare providers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Romanians also partnered with providers in Serbia to use e-information and e-communication technologies to lower treatment costs while improving services.
In the Mont Blanc region shared by Italy, France, and Switzerland, the three nations joined forces to provide telemedical services to those living in the mountainous areas. Officially named the e-Rés@mont project, providers progressed towards treating acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness).
Doctegrity: Your Cross-Border Telemedicine Provider
Telemedicine has made leaps and bounds over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it still has a way to go. Cross-border services are the future of telemedicine—and the global health initiative. With the aid of modern technology, the US can lead the way in cross-border remote healthcare.
Doctegrity is the premier choice for cross-border telemedical services as a leading service provider for remote health solutions. Employers looking for robust healthcare options can leverage Doctegrity’s network of medical professionals to provide their employees with high-quality telehealth services—no matter where they are.
Get in touch with Doctegrity today to learn more about how telehealth is the future of non-emergency and mental/behavioral health treatment.