Online Education, TeleHealth has lot of limitations and cannot replace conventional methods

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Online Education, TeleHealth has
lot of limitations and cannot
replace conventional methods
TeleHealth may be useful in radiology,
dermatology, for second opinion but
cannot eliminate or minimize the
importance of Clinical Skills i.e. good
history and physical examination

KARACHI: The ongoing COVID19 pandemic has seriously disrupted the normal way of life, education and health services being no exception. As a stop gap arrangement, many institutions and professionals have tried to fill up this gap by making use of advances in information technology opting for online education and TeleHealth services. However, numerous studies done all over the world have proved that it could at the most be a temporary arrangement. There is no substitute to face to face teaching and training. Similarly it is not at all possible to eliminate or minimize the importance of clinical skills wherein good history taking and complete physical examination plays an important role in making the correct diagnosis.

While TeleHealth could be of immense benefit and useful in specialties like Radiology and Dermatology for screening of patients so that those requiring detailed examination can be identified but it has very limited utility in most of the disciplines where detailed examination of the patient is important. Moreover since it also lacks doctor-patient physical interaction, the patient satisfaction is also very low. In education, it is not possible to ensure that the students remain constantly engaged while lack of proper infrastructure i.e. undisrupted electricity supply, disruption in internet service remain major hindrance. For the developing countries with limited resourced, it is essential that arrangements are made to go back to the conventional methods while supplementing these services with online education and TeleHealth services when and where feasible. Total dependence on online education and closure of the educational institutions has already destroyed the career of millions of children. Hence do not be carried away by tall claims of success of online education and TeleHealth services by those with their own vested interests. Development of proper basic infrastructure should get preference before embarking on any such innovations.

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