Telehealth: from alternative to mainstream

From robotic surgery to overseas phone-ins with your local GP or specialist—the world of Telehealth has  revolutionised the way in which we seek and acquire health care support.

While many of today’s modern-day technological advances could be viewed as gimmicky or simply created to enable a certain type of laziness (Uber Eats, I’m looking at you) – Telehealth services have been saving the lives of people around the world for many years.

And with our rapidly ageing population, the world of Telehealth has never been more important. But these progressive services are not just for the frail and aged; young people, busy working professionals, rural communities and expat travellers are all changing the way in which they seek and receive medical care.

The need for long-distance health care is not a new concept. As far back as Roman and pre-Hippocratic periods, elderly patients who were unable to travel to temples for treatment would send messengers on their behalf, who would convey information relating to symptoms and return home with a diagnosis and treatment. In Africa, villagers would use smoke signals to warn neighbouring tribes about outbreaks of disease.

Perhaps the earliest use of Telehealth can be traced back to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, who used his newly-invented telephone to call his assistant Mr Watson for help after he spilt acid on his trousers. In the early 1960s, NASA equipped spacecraft and spacesuits with Telehealth capabilities, so that the health of astronauts could be monitored from ground zero. Then came the invention of the internet, and with it, a vastly expanded capability for long-distance communication and new programs like Skype, which instantly changed the way we communicate.

It is incredible to think that twenty years ago, less than 1% of people had access to the internet. Today, more than 40% of the world’s population has easy access to fast and reliable internet. And with an ageing population (28% of the Australian population will be over the age of 85 by the year 2064), and increasing work/life demands on young people, the old fashioned ‘drive to the doctor and sit for two hours in the waiting room’ model of care is already outdated. Specialist wait times are increasing, work hours and demands are on the rise and the Australian population is becoming ever-more mobile and geographically spread. Suddenly the comfort of seeing a doctor or specialist instantly—from the comfort of your own home—sounds like common sense, doesn’t it.

Docto offers Australia’s very first online hospital; run by doctors, for patients. Offering a 24 hr Telehealth service, anyone from any location in Australia or overseas can access all of the medical assistance they require at any time of the day or night, simply with the click of a button.

Patients can choose between secure chat, voice or video consultations and get the help they need immediately, without the complications of three-month specialist wait times, peak hour traffic and time off from work.

In this modern era of contactless cards, driverless cars and fridges that will do your groceries for you, Docto is leaving traditional specialist services in the dark ages, where they belong.