Remote health examination, treatment still has long way to go

Experts discussed payments for remote health examination and treatment with health insurance during a recent conference held by the Ministry of Health in Hanoi.

remote health examination, treatment still has long way to go hinh 0
Doctors conduct online consultancy at a provincial hospital.

Experts said remote health examination and treatment was an effective measure to raise work effectiveness in grassroots levels while reducing the burden on upper-level hospitals.

It also helped patients by cutting their travel time and expenses.

However, the implementation of remote health examination and treatment still met lots of obstacles, especially payment with health insurance.

Chairing the conference, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said remote health examination and treatment meant multi-hospital consultations and could not replace traditional examination and treatment.

Two main problems should be resolved, Long said, including how grassroots-level hospitals learn skills regularly and when they are in need, and how residents receive health support regularly and when they are in need.   

An effective system is needed to apply information technology in the work.

Long said multi-hospital and online consultancy helped bring the best treatment method for COVID-19 patients, especially serious ones, the 43-year-old British pilot for example.

“The best professors and experts of the health sector have online discussions about his condition and proper treatment for him. So far he has had initial improvement,” said Long.

Long asked hospitals to set up a strategy for using online health examination and treatment systems.

“We should push technology into the system to promote its efficiency and quality,” he said.

Luong Ngoc Khue, Director of the Medical Services Administration, said thanks to remote health examination and treatment, residents in remote areas could access high-quality medical services but expenses for travel and services would be minimised.

Central hospitals have enough capacity and infrastructure for the project, according to Khue.

The project’s main activities include telemedicine counselling, telemedicine consultation, remote image diagnostic consultation, remote anatomy and surgical consultation, use of apps in medical services and technology transfer.

Fifteen hospitals across the country in the satellite hospital system are scheduled to join the project.

Most of the expenses for the project come from the State budget and as many as 400 hospitals in provinces and districts will benefit from the project.

Nguyen Lan Hieu, Director of the Hanoi Medical University Hospital, said the hospital had conducted remote health examinations and treatment for district-level hospitals.

The hospital had offered remote consultancy twice a week for 16 satellite hospitals.

In the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, the Hanoi Medical University Hospital not only connected to the provincial hospital but also 11 district hospitals.

“The most difficult problem is the infrastructure and equipment for the work. Payment for doctors also meet obstacles because a proper policy is needed,” said Hieu.

Tran Minh Dien, Deputy Director of the National Paediatrics Hospital, said the hospital had used video calls for online consultancy successfully in 10 cases.

“To conduct remote health examination and treatment successfully, we need good task forces and detailed concerned policies,” he said.

To implement the project soon, Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Long asked the Health Insurance Department to urgently work with the Department of Planning and Finance to set up a system of expenses for remote health examination and treatment with health insurance.