Telemedicine is the delivery of healthcare services and the exchange of medical information remotely using electronic communication technologies, such as video conferencing and telephone calling.
In 2018 the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) launched a telemedicine pilot project for the benefit of persons in remote areas and those with mobility issues. The project, which is ongoing, aims to allow such persons to access health services more easily. Although not widespread, telemedicine’s use in Jamaica is becoming increasingly important, particularly due to the onset of the coronavirus and the accompanying need for social distancing. As a direct result of this, over 8,000 persons in Jamaica sought medical assistance via telecommunications technologies between March and May 2020.
Types of Telemedicine
There are three major types of telemedicine. These are real time, store and forward and remote patient monitoring.
- Real Time
This involves live consultation between patients and healthcare providers using video calling.
- Store and Forward
A system in which a healthcare professional shares patient information, such as test results, with another healthcare professional at a different location via email or other message sharing platforms. This type of service is commonly used in situations wherein a general practitioner needs to consult a specialist to secure a diagnosis.
- Remote Patient Monitoring
The tracking of a patient’s vital signs and other health data from a distance. It is primarily used for post-surgery follow-up and with patients who have chronic illnesses that require regular monitoring, such as diabetes. Many tracking tools used in remote patient monitoring are designed to record and transmit patients’ medical data automatically and to be portable.
Two of these types, namely real time and store and forward, are used in Jamaica. As part of the pilot project, real time telemedicine is used at the Kitson Town Health Centre in St. Catherine and the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon. Store and forward telemedicine is used at the Bustamante Hospital for Children and the Kingston Public Hospital, both in Kingston.
Telemedicine Application in Jamaica
The application of telemedicine in Jamaica and other countries, is mainly in non-emergency situations. Telemedicine can be used in the treatment of conditions such as:
- The flu
- Skin conditions
- Sports injuries
- Insect bites
- Respiratory illnesses
- Mental health issues
For further information, contact:
Ministry of Health and Wellness
10-16 Grenada Crescent