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Healthcare Cost Savings due to backward.

Telemedicine

Abstract:
The following study discusses the current
state of healthcare in Pakistan and highlights
the importance of telemedicine in improving
the healthcare ecosystem in the region.
Using the cost savings from a telemedicine
model of care in northern Queensland,
Australia, the study builds an example of
how telemedicine is the solution to the
healthcare crisis in rural Pakistan.
AugmentCare is the answer to the The value for rural population in Pakistan
telemedicine solution provision in the region was 117,421,300 as of 2016. As the graph
and is a complete healthcare platform that below shows, over the past 56 years this
will transform the manner in which indicator reached a maximum value of
healthcare is delivered in urban and rural 117,421,300 in 2016 and a minimum value
Pakistan. of 34,981,760 in 1960. [1]

1. Pakistan and its healthcare 1.2 Pakistan and the poverty line:
stratosphere: Since a vast majority of the country
comprises the rural quota of the population
1.1 Pakistan: A country with a massive it entails that they have little or no access to
rural populace: the bare necessities required to lead a certain
standard of life. [2]
Pakistan is a largely agricultural land and
70-80% of its population comprises of rural
areas or the countryside. Villages and towns,
even small cities all form part of the rural
masses. At the grass root level the main
vocation is farming and cultivation. This
implies a typical village in Pakistan
critically lacks in metropolitan
conveniences. There won't be an
apt drainage system. Most of the villages
don't have access to safe drinking
water, electricity and Sui gas. There is acute
scarcity of amenities
These stats imply a massive inequality in
like schools, parks, hospitals, transportation
income where one strata of the society has
thus making life quite inconvenient and
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access to premium quality life conveniences phones and computers to provide clinical
and the other struggle every day to lead a services to patients over long distance
hand-to-mouth lifestyle. communication. [4]
Through phone calls, emails, mobile apps,
1.3 The ‘health poverty trap’ and and even video chat, health care
Pakistan: professionals are able to diagnose and treat
patients without the need for long travels or
The health poverty trap basically describes a in-person hospital visits.
situation where the poor have little or no Aside from connecting patients and medical
access to better healthcare conditions and providers, telemedicine also offers a way for
the poor healthcare conditions lead health care professionals to consult with
individuals to poverty. The situation is even other physicians or specialists in the
worse for a low income and developing diagnosis or treatment of a patient without
country like Pakistan where more than 25% having to leave their own facilities.
of the population is residing below the
poverty line. [3] 2.2 Why is telemedicine the answer to
Pakistan’s rural healthcare deprivation
dilemma?

The previous section discusses how a


substantial portion of Pakistan’s population
resides in rural areas and worse still below
the poverty line. These stats indicate an
inevitable decrease in the percentage of
individuals who actually have access to
basic healthcare facilities in the region. This
is mainly a consequence of the urban bias in
delivering quality healthcare services.
Subsequently, rural residents have to travel
Thus the severity of health-related poverty is long distances to obtain their medical
closely reflected in the country’s poor health treatment or to simply visit a doctor for
indicators. Poverty is thus both a consultation. Telemedicine can dramatically
consequence and a cause of ill health. improve the present healthcare accessibility
and delivery system in Pakistan in the
2. Telemedicine: The solution to following ways:
Pakistan’s health poverty trap:
 Empower patients to take control of
2.1 What really is telemedicine? their healthcare routine
 Reduce costs for patients by cutting
Telemedicine is the use of down travel expenses
telecommunications technology such as  Improve healthcare statistics by
making medical care accessible for
2 everyone
3. Case study: Cost savings from a patient and one escort
to Townsville
telemedicine model of care in northern
Overnight $60* 2 * 30 $3600
Queensland, Australia: accommodation in
Townsville† (10% of
total consultations)
3.1 Background:
Urgent aeromedical $13 100 * 4 $52400
retrieval of four
Patients with cancer who live in rural and patients from Mt Isa
Specialist/registrar 17 * $600 * $47634
remote areas of Australia and other countries
travel once every 3 4.67
with large rural populations travel long weeks for 56 months
distances to major centers to receive Total savings for the $762394
study period
specialist care.[5,6] Some of these patients
3.3 Discussion:
require overnight accommodation for
themselves and their escorts. In Australia, all The TCC model of cancer care is one
or part of the travel costs and part of the example of the use of telemedicine to
accommodation costs are usually borne by facilitate the provision of specialist cancer
jurisdictional governments. [7] services to rural patients. It reduces travel
for patients and doctors, reduces inter-
hospital transfers and provides access to
ongoing medical education for staff working
“Telemedicine has the potential to
in remote areas by improving access to
provide specialist consultations to specialist oncologists. [9]Studies in Kansas in
patients in their home towns and the United States reported that the
minimize the need for distant travel, telemedicine cost for cancer care was lower
although evidence for the relative costs than the face-to-face clinic cost and that the
and benefits of telemedicine is mixed. cost of telemedicine clinics had declined
[8]
” over the years due to increase in patient
numbers. Similarly, a study from
Queensland, Australia, reported savings
from pediatrics telemedicine clinics. [10]
3.2 Cost Analysis:
The analysis showed that total cost of the 4. AugmentCare: The missing piece of the
teleoncology project in the first year was puzzle:
$115 825, while savings were $59 195. In
the second year, there were only running 4.1 What AugmentCare actually is?
costs of $45 457 while, as a result of an
increased number of consultations, the AugmentCare is a digital healthcare
savings were $157 929. In the third year platform that is working to provide
(2009–2010), four new centers were started, telemedicine and telehealth services across
and the total cost of the establishment and Pakistan. The platform uses a variety of
running of the centers. electronic communications media, ranging
from video consultations to online-report
Description of Calculation Total sharing to remote patient monitoring, to
expenses prevented of Cost
Return travel cost of $658760 provide clinical services to a patient.

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4.2 How AugmentCare is revolutionizing
the way healthcare is delivered across
Pakistan:

AugmentCare is a platform that is


consistently working to allow rural patients
to maintain quality health standards by
eliminating distances between doctor and
patient. This revolutionary service is the
future of the country that is looking to
reform its healthcare standards and statistics.
Online video consultations, a vast network
of OPDs and unlimited GP (general
practitioner) access makes AugmentCare a
leader in the healthcare dynamics of
Pakistan.

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References
1) https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/p
akistan/rural-population
2) http://www.writework.com/essay/pa
kistan-2
3) https://www.adb.org/countries/pakist
an/poverty
4) https://www.infinithealthcare.com/re
source-center/telemedicine-and-its-
impact-to-the-healthcare-industry/
5) Doolittle GC, Spaulding AO.
Providing access to oncology care
for rural patients via telemedicine. J
Oncol Pract 2006; 2: 228-230

6) Queensland Health. Patient Travel


Subsidy Scheme.
http://www.health.qld.gov.au/ptss
(accessed Feb 2013).

7) Mistry H. Systematic review of


studies of the cost-effectiveness of
telemedicine and telecare. Changes
in the economic evidence over
twenty years. J Telemed Telecare
2012; 18: 1-6.

8) Sabesan S, Larkins S, Evans R, et al.


Telemedicine for rural cancer care in
North Queensland: bringing cancer
care home. Aust J Rural Health
2012; 20: 259-264.

9) Doolittle GC, Harmon A, Williams


A, et al. A cost analysis of a tele-
oncology practice. J Telemed
Telecare 1997; 3 Suppl 1: 20-22.