“When you focus on someone’s disability you’ll overlook their abilities, beauty and uniqueness. Once you learn to accept and love them for who they are, you subconsciously learn to love yourself unconditionally.” – A mother of a child with down syndrome.
And, we do believe in it!
This #WorldDownSyndromeDay, let’s celebrate the differences that make each individual unique and beautiful. Here is a 3 step guide for you to interact and understand the syndrome better.
From searching for home remedies to ‘do-it-yourself’ kits, Dr. Google answers every question that you ask and replies to a possible disease profile for every entered symptom into the search box. While online self-diagnosis resources seem like a savior in your moments of confused illness, healthcare professionals see the long term possible dangers in this practice.
With Dr. Google’s 24 X 7 availability and ease of access, can a user’s search queries really be “the doctor” we are looking for? — something we all must ask ourselves.
While healthcare professionals in India acknowledge the convenience of the internet and sympathize with an individual’s struggle to get the best possible care around them, here are a few dangers of depending solely on the “World Wide Web” for your health education.
Risk of self-diagnosis suggested by the care specialists
1. Unwanted Panic: For some of us, it is as simple as – Existing Symptoms + Internet Research = Chronic illness leading to death. A recent study aimed to profile symptoms related to common influenza infection showed every time a user googled these symptoms there is 44% probability of a fatal diagnosis on the internet. That’s not only scary but also troublesome to the extent of causing clinical anxiety.
And if you think you are reading too much into the situation and still couldn’t stop further to glimpse into the worst possible scenario, you may not be alone! In fact, Internet searches often contribute to hysteria which can become a serious detriment to mental & physical health before visiting a doctor.
Although it’s obvious to worry about the worst possible outcomes and surf the internet for more and more information, a panic state will do more harm than good for the patient.
2. Unreliable sources: It doesn’t require legit credentials to add your ‘two cents’ online. Also, the way it’s has been easy in this ‘social media dominated world’, considering that there is at least one false piece of information against a fact. Even if you are referring to a reliable source (Government websites/healthcare facilities or organizations), the information could be very general. Moreover, each patient has different risk factors and varying treatment & social history, all of which contributes to the decision-making process of a physician.
Hence, consulting a trained medical professional provides you with expert care instead of playing ‘doctor-doctor’ at home.
3. It’s nothing ‘serious’ chalances: Sometimes, when you are googling symptoms, you find information suggesting your chronic headache and cough are merely symptoms of the common cold. This could lead to waiting months for a symptom to subside and can further delay the optimum care you need. Pushing you more and more towards a deteriorated state.
Isn’t it ironic that the WWW of “we know it all” can push patients into believing that their headache is a brain tumor when it isn’t & a haemorrhage can be diagnosed as a headache due to acidity?
4. Distrust in doctor’s diagnosis: Human beings are known to be psychologically hung on what they believe to be true; even in the face of an expert’s opinion. Being obsessive about the findings of your symptoms on the internet can even enable you to resist the professional diagnosis, furthermore, rejecting the treatment plan.
Though it may not always come to these extremes, however, even some disbelief can cause unnecessary visits to seek second opinions resulting in increased medical expenses.
According to the patients – Understanding the perils of self-diagnosis is one thing and getting past the convenience of accessing information at your fingertips is another! Moreover, nobody wants to take an in-person appointment and sit in a waiting area!
For such patients, Telemedicine could work wonders and encourage medicos to take care of their patients via homecare modules. Similarly, self-test kits have also become so popular that patients at times assume they are enough for confirming the illness (clearly, not everyone is aware of the false positives).
Self-test kits may give you temporary assurance, but a real doctor consultation is way better!
Do-it-yourself diagnostic kits are gaining popularity more than ever with an equal push from online and retail market players. These kits which claim to diagnose everything from Cancer to Alzheimer’s disease are generally delivered with ‘caution while using’ disclaimer. Even several healthcare organizations claim that they can be unreliable, inadequate and are no substitute for a diagnosis by a healthcare professional. Moreover, even if the self-test kit is reliable, the person might use the test incorrectly causing further misinterpretation of the results.
Therefore, if you are concluding your health on the basis of a 5 min test, it’s better to keep a physician in the loop. And what’s the best way to get an online telemedicine consultation with the doctor of your choice.
Self-diagnosis makes users essentially assume that they know the subtleties that diagnosis constitutes. In such a condition, they may end up planning the ‘perfect’ course of action at home. There is a greater chance that a patient would neglect the disease if the symptoms seem harmless at the moment.
If you think self-diagnosis won’t push you to self-medicate instead of going to a real doctor; think again!
Prominent side effects & dangers of “Self Medication” & diagnosis by Dr. Internet –
Delays in seeking appropriate medical advice and proper treatment.
Potential adverse reactions.
Worsening of the health condition
Dangerous drug interaction.
Risk of dependence and abuse.
HArbor Says: Our Health is the key element for a happy life and if our medical care is in question — better to be assured and not regret it later. Virtual healthcare delivery modules can help to resolve the ill effects of self-diagnosis. Where it will enable care practitioners to consult patients, analyze their symptoms and supervise drug oversight without getting into the burden of in-patient visits. At the same time, since the doctor is just a virtual appointment away, seeking professional care is convenient and way better than guessing the illness on internet research.
According to a survey in 2020, COVID-19 has caused an immense psychological burden on the global population, especially among healthcare professionals who have been facing high infection risks and increased workload. But if we think that the worst is behind us, we are far away from reality!
Mental health includes psychological, emotional & social well-being that means it substantially affects how we think, feel, and act. The unprecedented impact of the COVID pandemic on health systems had been significantly evident as compared to the mental health & well-being of healthcare professionals. This might have led to redefining the healthcare systems, but somehow the mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers were left unaddressed!
According to a study conducted in 2021 by the frontiers, several factors were responsible for aggravating stress in the healthcare fraternity and further leading to difficulties in caregiving during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Let’s see what were these factors and how healthTech solutions might have assisted in resolving the issues emerging from the pandemic.
The Indian healthcare system struggles with a shortage of medically trained professionals in private as well as public healthcare units. During the COVID pandemic, the existing healthcare professionals in the country were overworked (usually up to 16–17 hour shifts per day) and under tremendous physical & psychological stress. Moreso, even the record-keeping and survey departments faced burnouts while processing the enormous data with conventional methods.
Solution: An ideal healthcare management software could have easily reduced the workload to manageable levels by automating the obvious operations. Furthermore, a digital patient record & survey module may have also assisted the Asha workers in feeding the system from the ground-root level instead of penning down the patient details and their vital stats during their house-to-house visits and then updating it into a central system at the end of the day.
Digital healthcare management has definitely made patient management quicker and less effective for ground-level healthcare workers.
Lack of PPE
Healthcare professionals in rural and remote locations of India pointed out that PPE supplied by their hospitals were either inadequate or of low quality. Although the on-paper estimates suggest that every hospital has been provided with the required numbers of PPEs, however, the facts on the ground were different. Moreover, it was also seen that the nurses were merely provided with PPEs as doctors were the primary focus and the need for an adequate supply of PPEs for nurses was relatively ignored.
Solution: This could have been easily resolved with a simple centralized inventory management system on mobiles to assist in the optimal utilization of the inventory.
Low Social Acceptance
The social stigma is still one of the persistent challenges for healthcare professionals in the COVID-19 pandemic. Wherein, the healthcare workers were perceived as the carriers of the infection due to their constant interaction with infected COVID-19 patients. Even the families of the healthcare professionals were forced to limit their interaction with neighbors; this has created stressful scenarios within their social communities.
The consequence of this social construct has inhibited patient monitoring as patients would rather prefer to skip the tests than grind under the stigma. However, a digital healthcare system would have given a better opportunity for the patients and the medical professionals to interact in a safe and social anxiety-free zone. Also, with such systems, the infected can be treated effectively at the comfort of their house; in the early stage.
Mental health Issues
Healthcare givers serve in an atmosphere where the fear of infection prevails at its largest and despite their training to think & act steadily in any medical emergency. Furthermore, medical practitioners have had to cope with several psychological challenges, including depression, anxiety and insomnia. This escalated into high chances of infection to their family members adding up to further mental stress.
During the pandemic, everyone has lost someone but witnessing death on a daily basis would have had a devastating impact on care providers’ psychological health which may have been left untreated.
Solution: Mental health has taken a critical toll over the medical fraternity and It’s time that the hospital administration takes initiatives toward understanding the challenges to overcome the well-being of care professionals while proposing more evidence-based solutions and checking their effectiveness promptly. Also, this must include timely surveys that promptly measure the physical, emotional and mental exhaustion of the medical professionals.
Lack of coordination and direction
COVID outbreak came with a few red flags and has affected global health in no time! This has created a panic state among people. Along with constantly changing guidelines from WHO and government agencies, doctors remained uncertain about the line of treatment. This caused heavy workload on the diagnostic labs.
It is also estimated that undefined safety protocols during the COVID first wave have forced COVID positive patients to visit medical facilities to receive standard medical consultation, which compromised COVID-negative patients as well as the medical workers’ health.
Solution: The worst possible scenario witnessed was lack of coordination between different departments. This could have been easily resolved with a well-established data-interoperable platform, which could have assisted healthcare stakeholders for quick interactions on a single platform while simultaneously updating the medical records.
Does stress among doctors have consequences for their patient care?
Medical professionals try to provide the best optimum care for their patients, however, burnout due to work-related stress has potentially reduced patient care with low patient engagement and satisfaction.
Deteriorating mental health in medical professionals could be the next pandemic if left untreated, however, a systematic approach to unburden care professionals from the long-lasting paperwork duties and getting rid of age-old conventional healthcare management practices can go above and beyond.