The overwhelming burden of COVID-19 illness could lead to caregiver burnout. Direct-to-consumer telemedicine can enable patients to connect with their healthcare provider at a distance. This virtual platform could be used by smartphones or webcam-enabled computers and allows physicians to effectively screen patients with early signs of COVID-19 before they reach to hospital. Hence, smart healthcare and telemedicine, have become the central topic of the global healthcare industry.
Telemedicine in Taiwan began in 1995, with the focus on remote areas and places lacking medical resources. The government began its pilot program in 2007, which gradually grew to cover major regions all over the country. The program focused on patients with chronic conditions. The first telecardiological care service in Taiwan was introduced by Cheng Hsin General Hospital in 2006.
To better monitor symptoms and make definite diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases in its preliminary stages and provide timely treatment, Cheng Hsin introduced its telecardiological care service, which reduces unnecessary patient visit to the hospital to preserve healthcare resources. The service later expanded to include patients with chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes to its scope of service. Over the past 16 years, it has served over 10,000 people with ages ranging from 7 to 92.
Cheng Hsin General Hospital’s Telehealth Center provides the most comprehensive care for patients with cardiac or chronic diseases and has the most successful business model. The Center’s accomplishments include: (a) early detection of threats to health, elucidating the cause of diseases, and increasing patient compliance rate, (b) increasing blood pressure control rate to over 80%, improving blood pressure fluctuation, and normalizing daily blood pressure fluctuations, and (c) improving blood glucose, blood lipid, and blood pressure levels through an exercise and diet plan.
Led by a cardiology team, the frontline staff has experience in clinical care, with service available 24/7. The Center conducts outpatient consultation, treatment, monitoring, and tracking to transition seamlessly and achieve a more precise integrated care, improving the quality of care and medication use. Moreover, by assessing medication compliance and improving drug education, medication compliance can be improved, and superfluous medication can be avoided.
Currently this service is for domestic and international patients with heart discomfort, cardiac disease, hypertension, or diabetes and wish to have a medical team monitor and evaluate their status to prevent the sudden changes of their conditions. Customized care programs are also available.
In 2021, Cheng Hsin General Hospital was approved by the Taipei City Government, Department of Health, as a telehealth consultation hospital, providing new options for patients who can not visit the hospital.