Telehealth use skyrockets in Brazil for COVID-19, flu

Allowed in the pandemic, online consultations pend Congress approval

Published in 12/01/2022 - 14:03 By Lucas Pordeus Leon - Brasília

Amid the steep surge in COVID-19 and influenza cases in the past few weeks, the number of online medical consultations doubled every 36 hours in Brazil, according to Saúde Digital Brasil, an association encompassing 90 percent of the market in the country.

Weekly online consultations for influenza and COVID-19 cases leaped from 7 thousand to 15 thousand from Christmas to New Year, the organization reported. In the first days of January, they added up to some 50 thousand.

Telehealth was allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, to facilitate access to health agents. However, the practice still pends regulation from Congress.

Civil servant Paulo Henrique do Espírito Santo contracted the novel coronavirus for the second time and declared that seeing a doctor online was enough medical care in his case.

Erick Barreto, professor for clinical emergencies at the University of Pernambuco, says telehealth brought benefits during the pandemic, but cannot fully replace visits to the doctor’s office.

In his view, video calls harm the emotional bonding between doctor and patient, in addition to not being available to everyone. He mentioned elders not familiar with technological devices and people with no access to the internet.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Raquel Mariano / Guilherme Strozi

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