In line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal of attaining universal healthcare coverage for all, how should we reinvent healthcare such that it is accessible and affordable?
The pandemic undeniably transformed traditional healthcare services, with physical trips to the doctor no longer possible due to social-distancing measures at the time. Healthcare services have thus adapted to lockdown situations, providing telemedicine as an alternative. Even after COVID 19 restrictions were lifted, this model of healthcare provision has been carried forward till today.
Many are now open to virtual primary care services replacing in-person visits for being accessible. Technology will continue to improve the quality of these online healthcare services to make them more personalised and accurate in diagnoses. Moreover, it reduces the workload of healthcare personnel, redirecting their attention to more urgent, severe cases. Beyond chronic and physical diseases, telemedicine has since supported mental health services as well. Given the stigmatisation of mental illnesses, telemedicine acts as a platform where patients can seek online therapy remotely.
While telemedicine shows potential to address healthcare infrastructure gaps in Southeast Asia, regulatory oversight is needed. Multilateral cooperation, policy coherence and data privacy regulations are crucial for ensuring the region’s safe and uniform standard of quality healthcare services.