Sunday 9 August, 2020

More Jamaicans seeing doctors online during pandemic

More Jamaicans, including senior citizens, are seeing doctors online for diagnosis and treatment during the COVID-19 crisis. That's according to Dr Che Bowen, CEO of MDLink, a telemedicine company operating on the island.

Speaking during an online forum discussing the future of Jamaica’s economy after the pandemic, Dr Bowen said he expects telemedicine to become a part of disaster preparedness in the future.

Telemedicine provides online instant access to a physician. “A patient can safely stay at home, be seen by a doctor, diagnosed and be treated online,” Dr Bowen explained.

Launched in Jamaica in 2018, the mission of MDLink, Dr Bowen said, is to provide access to affordable health care. He said the Centres for Disease Control and Treatment (CDC) in the United States has recommended that telemedicine be used as a solution for “flattening the curve” in in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bowen however noted that the state of the country’s telecommunications infrastructure could hinder the growth of the tele-health industry.

“They (telecommunications providers) have been put under extreme pressure with the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone is streaming and the bandwidth is being pushed to the max. They are struggling to keep everyone connected but they need to rise to the occasion”, he said.

It’s not only young persons who are accessing his company’s services online, Dr Bowen said.

“We have patients from St Thomas, Black River (St Elizabeth) and other rural communities. We even elderly patients trying to figure out the digital space in order to see a doctor online."

He admitted that the company was still working on the best solutions to serve and collect from its patients.

“It would great if we could have kiosks set up throughout the nation or in large employee settings so that wherever you are you can have access to a physician. I believe we would need some assistance from Government in terms of rolling that out," Dr Bowen said.

He was participating in a virtual forum entitled “the Economic future of Jamaica: Life after COVID-19”. The event was put on by Island Innovation, an organisation that works with diverse rural and island communities around the world to develop solutions for sustainable development and prosperity.

Also commenting in the forum, Mariame McIntosh Robinson, President and CEO of First Global Bank suggested that all companies should look at a digitisation strategy going forward.

This strategy she said should look at four things:

-  How to access payments remotely or digitally;

- Having good robust customer data;

-  How to get products or services to the customer; and

-  A forward-looking people strategy in an environment that can take in data and respond to feedback.

 

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