Telemedicine: the right arm of the healthcare system
Gleneagles Hospital Hong Kong wins at the HKB Management Excellence Awards 2022
Hong Kong experienced COVID-19’s unprecedented impact when the pandemic was at its height, straining both public and private healthcare providers to meet the extraordinary demands of the crisis. Gleneagles Hospital Hong Kong has been at the forefront of the battle against the virus, supporting the city’s epidemic work and COVID-19 patients through adopting a multi-pronged approach and developing telemedicine services that won them the COVID Management Initiative of the Year Award at the HKB Management Excellence Awards 2022.
At its most intense, COVID-19 flooded public emergency rooms; non-emergency services in public hospitals had to be cut back; and non-COVID health issues were not attended to in a timely manner due to the fear of going to clinics and hospitals.
Gleneagles identified a healthcare gap and decided to launch its first virtual consultation service in May 2020. Gleneagles Virtual Consultation, with medication delivery for patients under selected specialities, aimed to bridge the gap by providing timely and quality medical care for patients whilst helping relieve the pressure on public hospitals.
Demand for remote healthcare rose with the increased demands brought by the pandemic, prompting Gleneagles to expand its telemedicine platform to cover more specialities and partnered with a telecommunications company to provide virtual consultation services with a proprietary telemedicine platform.
A progressive development of the platform saw Gleneagles use remote health monitoring devices and a cloud platform to accommodate patients with hypertension.
After two years of handling its telemedicine platform, Gleneagles strengthened its adoption of telemedicine to face the fifth wave of infections by launching a free online consultation service for all people with medical needs, including COVID-19 patients, with the support of NWS Holdings Limited.
As the city faced a rebound of cases in the later months of 2022, the hospital formed a dedicated service team supported by doctors and nurses who proactively reached out to patients and offered teleconsultation under an initiative collaborating with the Hospital Authority.
Just in the first month of the public-private collaboration for teleconsultation with medication delivery and counselling services, the hospital was able to cater to 9,000 elderly patients, which helped reduce the risk of complications of the most vulnerable patients. Most importantly, the service has alleviated the pressure on public hospitals to provide care to a large number of patients.
These initiatives made them the first private hospital in Hong Kong to offer free virtual consultation and medication delivery services, along with becoming the city’s first private hospital to
collaborate with the Hospital Authority to provide free teleconsultation with medication delivery and counselling services to elderly COVID-19 patients.
Teleconsultation and telemedicine services are steadily being accepted and understood amongst Hong Kong’s population, leading to smooth-running services and positive feedback from patients. This shows that telemedicine can act as an effective alternative healthcare service delivery mode in the face of health crises, serving the populace with timely and reassuring support to those infected but unable to receive proper medical care due to various reasons.