In this article:
- • The old school concept of a clinic
- • Features of a functional clinic
- • The Evolution of Healthcare Services
- • What the future holds
The old school concept of a clinic
Whenever we think of a clinic, the image of a cleanroom filled with clinical paraphernalia comes to mind. The patient is usually ushered in after a receptionist checks their appointment, and it’s their time to get medical attention. They then meet the doctor and discuss their health issues, followed by their treatment.
The clinic might be a standalone clinic or a polyclinic where multiple doctors of various specialties have their clinic set up to avail of several doctors at one go if required without worrying about wasting time in travel.
Features of a functional clinic
The main requirements of a clinic to be functional are:
- 1. Space to house the medical team and the medical equipment
- 2. A consultation room
- 3. An assessment room with sufficient space and privacy to conduct assessments for the individual patient
- 4. Parking space
The Evolution of Healthcare Services
The post-COVID era of change has changed many things showing us a new way of getting our work done, causing an evolution in how we see a typical functional clinic. The global pandemic that hit us early this year brought the requirement of social isolation to control its spread. This meant going out only for the essentials with bulk shopping to stock up for a while, no social gatherings, and no meeting in small spaces. Several people lost their jobs while others shut down businesses to help control the pandemic.
The impact on the healthcare system was overwhelming, with patients overflowing into the clinic and several elective surgeries being banned. The people with preexisting health conditions were at increased risk of infection and unable to get the required care. Several individuals who depended on public transportation were stranded as they had no means of transport, making access to healthcare adding to the already challenging situation.
There was an urgent need for innovative approaches to control the spread while providing appropriate healthcare at the same time. At this point, telehealth came to the rescue! Telehealth has been defined as using medical information exchanged from one site to another through electronic communication to improve a patient’s health (1). Telehealth services can deliver health services spanning a wide range of individuals ranging from children to older adults and across a continuum of care. These services have several service points, including health care settings, clinics, homes, schools, or community-based worksites.
What the future holds
Telehealth changed the way healthcare services were provided while changing the people's perception of using these healthcare services. People could now obtain their services from the comfort of their homes without worrying about transportation or the risk of exposure. Telehealth has been rapidly evolving, and people are openly embracing this evolution and showcasing excellent results in their health status.
However, telehealth is just getting started and is yet to reveal the true extent of its potential. Healthcare providers and receivers are looking forward to what telehealth has to offer in the future while creating a whole new world of clinics without walls!
1. About telemedicine. Washington, DC: American Telemedicine Association (http://www.americantelemed.org/main/about/about-telemedicine/telemedicine-faqs. opens in new tab).