Why this matters for sleep and respiratory patients
According to research1, a majority of global healthcare leaders are currently investing in virtual care. Indeed, the rise of telehealth technologies during the pandemic connected doctors and patients across geographies. Telehealth can play a key role in interactions between patients and sleep and respiratory clinicians, from staying on top of symptoms to checking in when office visits are not possible. This is especially true if systems are suffering from staff shortages.
But how do we ensure all sleep and respiratory patients can benefit from this technology in the long run? The article, Virtual care after COVID-19: Overcoming five barriers to permanence, touches on a less obvious barrier to greater adequate telehealth adoption: digital and health literacy inequalities. Growing evidence suggests that limited health literacy is associated with a higher incidence of disease burden of illness, especially chronic disease. This has a spiralling effect.
Overcoming the hidden barrier of health literacy - including the cultural and language issues associated with it - is complex. To drive change across populations, all participants in the health system should be involved - healthcare providers, governments, educational institutions and regulators. If telehealth technology can continue to transform healthcare and address population health its benefits need to be felt by the many, not the few.