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Anales de la Facultad de Ciencias Médicas (Asunción)

versión impresa ISSN 1816-8949

An. Fac. Cienc. Méd. (Asunción) vol.54 no.2 Asunción ago. 2021 


Telemedicine and COVID 19 Pandemic

Fátima Soledad Ovando1

1Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Hospital de Clínicas. San Lorenzo, Paraguay.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clinicas Hospital, like all the medical services in the country as well as in the world, had to adapt to this emerging situation. In this sense, patient care arose as a challenge, inasmuch as the fear of contagion on the healthcare personnel compelled them to look for alternatives for patients. Among such alternatives, remote care presented as an option to patient care.

Telemedicine, per a report by the WHO in 2016 is an innovative concept. In our country, telemedicine is still undergoing its development. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine became a chance to advance its implementation. Indeed, telemedicine is regarded as one of the major innovations in health services, not only from the technological but also from the cultural and social perspectives since it benefits accessibility to health care services and improves the quality of medical care and organizational efficiency.

Telemedicine has been considered a scientific discipline between medicine and technology 1.

Telemedicine is the provision of healthcare services, such as diagnosis or treatment of a patient, or prescription of drugs using technology. On the other hand, teleconsultation refers to a specific care to a patient. Thus, teleconsultation is within telemedicine 2.

Telemedicine is a medical act per se, based on legality, patient protection, and data confidentiality. Using appropriate technological tools for the practice of medicine is crucial. Furthermore, proper platforms must be used so that exchanged information is encrypted. Telemedicine has come to stay. It was already underway, but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated its process 3.

Teleconsultation is a safe and effective way to evaluate suspected COVID-19 cases and to guide the diagnosis and treatment of a patient, minimizing the risk of disease transmission. Further, it permits many of the key clinical services to continue to operate regularly and without interruption during a public health emergency. During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual healthcare methodologies are used to reduce the exposure of patients and healthcare providers in hospitals, as well to reduce the need to use personal protective equipment, and to evaluate, treat, and monitor COVID-positive patients.

Teleconsultation for monitoring COVID-19 positive patients at Clinicas Hospital

The initiative arises from the Hospital Infection Control Department and Epidemiology of the Clinicas Hospital. The Call Center Monitoring Service for COVID-19 begins in April 2020 with a medical professional group. By resolution 70/2020, Mr. Dean of the Faculty of Medical Science Prof. Dr. Laurentino Barrios appoints Prof. Floriano Calderoli, Dr. Héctor Dami and Dr. Patricia Aquino as responsible for the medical service.

The medical service is carried out through a protocol with highly trained professionals -fundamental conditions for a high-quality remote care.

COVID-19 patients attend the Respiratory Contingency and once the positive result is confirmed, they are scheduled through the HIS for telemedicine monitoring. The healthcare service is performed actively, via a phone call or video call and with remote monitoring, i.e., registration and evaluation of the laboratory studies requested in contingency or requested by the telemedicine medical team, as well as the available imaging studies, such as x-ray or thorax tomography.

The Health Information System (HIS) is a technological health-care system, which streamlines and improves the quality of patient care processes in the public system nationwide. The HIS collects data in real time and allows the availability of having a medical history to facilitate diagnosis.

Data is recorded on the HIS platform, and the whole data are available for monitoring by the members of the area, as well as for subsequent controls for different specialties that they are derived as needed, e.g., pneumology, cardiology, endocrinology, rheumatology, respiratory emergencies, and other health-care services included in the HIS.

Data are being evaluated and the preliminary results are promising. Telemedicine in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic represents a high-quality health-care assistance, maintaining the distance and offering potentialities for its expansion to other medical areas within the Clinicas Hospital, based on the experience in monitoring COVID-19 patients.


1. MONTEAGUDO JL, SERRANO L, HERNANDEZ SC. La telemedicina: ¿ciencia o ficción?. Anales Sis San Navarra. 2005, vol.28, n.3, pp.309-323. ISSN 1137-6627. [ Links ]

2. Ruggeri N, Mora F. COVID 19 ¿EL IMPULSO DEFINITIVO A LA TELEMEDICINA? Algunos aspectos a tener en cuenta por los profesionales, Asociación Española de Pediatría, 2020. [ Links ]

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, Febrero 29). Interim Guidance for Healthcare Facilities: reparing for Community Transmission of Covid-19 in the United States [ Links ]

Received: June 18, 2021; Accepted: June 25, 2021

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