Virtual Hospital Deliverables
The deliverables of the Virtual Hospital Telemedicine system can be divided into four parts:
- Clinical Services to remote rural Communities in the third world.
- Medical education and training of rural healthcare providers.
- Improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the delivery of rural healthcare services in the third world.
- Delivery of education and other social services to third world rural communities
The Virtual Hospital Telemedicine project will add value to the delivery of healthcare services within the third world by working alongside current government policies and programs and creating efficient and cost-effective systems of health care delivery to the rural communities. Healthcare services that stand out as being most cost-effective constitute the core of basic primary health care services;
- Pregnancy related care
- Immunizations and routine child health care
- Family planning services
- Prevention and control of infectious diseases
- Surveillance programmes e.g. screening for diabetes, hypertension, breast cancer etc.
When these interventions are provided by well functioning primary community healthcare centers, they manage more than 80% of healthcare demands and reduce a nation’s burden of disease by up to 30%. (World Bank).
Virtual Hospital Hubs will provide medical expertise and technical support to primary rural healthcare communities in different parts of the third world across provincial boundaries. Using hospitals for primary care inhibits development of community programmes. Resources are channeled to the hospitals instead of the community.
Another reason hospitals should not provide primary and preventive care is that the cost of care is usually many times higher in hospitals than in local community clinics. Telemedicine will serve as an incentive for promoting communities to use cost effective primary healthcare services at community centres rather than seeking treatment at tertiary hospitals.
In performing cost-benefit of the Virtual Hospital Telemedicine System, the following factors are taken into consideration:
- The telemedicine real time interactive video conference system will enable face to face contact between doctor and patient. Consultations will also be enabled through effective email store and forward services
- Telemedicine will reduce the need significantly for patients to travel from rural communities to urban tertiary facilities thus reducing travel and accommodation costs.
- Additional savings will result from keeping a patient in a local, less expensive facility rather than larger and more expensive tertiary hospitals.
- The rural communities will derive further economic benefits from retaining medical professionals in the remote areas and utilizing local health facilities for various diagnostic studies and procedures.
- Timely diagnosis and treatment provided through telemedicine will contribute to health promotion strategies, disease prevention and reduction of medical complications in third world populations. These measures will further reduce cost of healthcare delivery within the developing world.