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The Telemedicine Revolution and Its Impact on Mental Health

By Carina Reverter - MeetingDoctors
CEO Latam


By Carina Reverter | CEO Latam - Wed, 10/11/2023 - 10:00

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Telemedicine, a technological innovation that has been steadily growing worldwide, is playing a crucial role in transforming the Mexican healthcare system. This advancement is not only improving healthcare accessibility but also having a significant economic impact on the country by reducing costs and increasing efficiency in healthcare. 

One of the standout aspects of telemedicine in Mexico is its ability to cut costs for both patients and healthcare providers. In a country where millions of people struggle to access quality medical services due to geographical distance and economic barriers, telemedicine is changing the landscape. Eliminating the need to travel long distances for in-person medical appointments has resulted in significant savings in transportation expenses and time for patients. Considering that an average Mexican makes 2.3 consultations every year, and assuming that telemedicine can tackle 70% of the consultations and with a penetration rate of of 70%, every person could reduce their carbon emissions by 2.62kg of CO2 every year. Furthermore, costs associated with hospitalization and traditional medical consultations are reduced when telemedicine solutions are used. This is especially relevant in the case of patients with chronic illnesses who require continuous monitoring. 

Enhancing Efficiency in Healthcare 

Telemedicine is also proving to be an effective tool in increasing healthcare efficiency in Mexico. Doctors can care for more patients in less time, reducing long waiting lists and expediting the diagnosis and treatment process. Moreover, the ability to share medical information and consult with other specialists virtually allows for more collaborative and multidisciplinary healthcare. In rural and remote areas of Mexico, where a shortage of doctors and medical resources is a common issue, telemedicine is playing a crucial role in providing access to specialists and high-quality healthcare services that were previously inaccessible. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) in Mexico, in 2018, the average population had approximately 2.3 medical appointments per year. This figure compares to six to seven medical consultations per person every year in Spain, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), evidencing a big gap in the access to healthcare services in Mexico. Telemedicine can improve this ratio significantly.  

Great Impact on Mental Health

Telemedicine has not only revolutionized physical healthcare in Mexico but has also played a crucial role in the field of mental health. In a country where mental health issues are a growing concern, telemedicine has emerged as an effective and accessible solution for providing psychological and psychiatric support to those in need. 

Expanded Access to Mental Healthcare 

One of the greatest challenges in the field of mental health in Mexico has been the lack of access to quality services. Globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 25% of the world's population experiences mental disorders at some point in their lives. In Mexico, a study conducted by the National Institute of Psychiatry revealed that approximately 16.9% of Mexicans have experienced an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Telemedicine has addressed this issue head-on by eliminating geographical barriers and increasing the availability of mental healthcare professionals. Now, patients in rural and urban areas alike can access therapy and psychiatric consultations without the need for long-distance travel. 

Reducing Stigma 

Telemedicine in mental health has also contributed to reducing the stigma associated with mental illnesses in Mexico. Providing people with the option to receive treatment in a more private and comfortable environment has fostered greater openness and acceptance regarding mental health issues. Patients can seek help without worrying about social stigmatization. According to a survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in the US, 75% of individuals who have used mental health services through telemedicine reported a reduction in the perception of stigma. In Mexico, according to the National Survey of Psychiatric Epidemiology, approximately 50% of people with mental disorders do not seek treatment due to associated stigma.

Continuous Monitoring and Personalized Support 

Telemedicine allows for closer and more personalized monitoring of patients with mental disorders. Therapists and psychiatrists can maintain regular contact with their patients through videoconferences and chat, facilitating progress monitoring and the adaptation of treatments as needed. This is particularly beneficial in the treatment of disorders such as anxiety and depression. A study from the University of California found that patients who participated in telemedicine therapy experienced a 50% improvement in depression symptoms compared to in-person therapy. In Mexico, there has been a 40% increase in the use of teletherapy for the treatment of anxiety and depression disorders in the past two years

Challenges and the Future of Telemedicine in Mexico 

Despite its advantages, telemedicine in Mexico faces challenges, such as the need for a robust internet infrastructure in rural areas and proper training of healthcare professionals in using these technologies. Globally, according to the International Telecommunication Union, approximately 46% of the world's population still lacks access to the internet. In Mexico, only 47.7% of rural areas have internet access, posing challenges for the implementation of telemedicine in these areas. Interdisciplinary collaboration among doctors, therapists, and psychologists through telemedicine can lead to more comprehensive and effective treatment approaches. Additionally, maintaining high standards of data security and patient privacy is essential. In the future, telemedicine is expected to continue expanding in Mexico, with a focus on integrating emerging technologies like mobile applications, self-help platforms, artificial intelligence and data analytics to further enhance healthcare. This promises a more accessible, efficient, and economically viable healthcare system for all Mexicans. 

In summary, telemedicine is playing a crucial role in improving the healthcare system in Mexico by generating significant cost savings and increasing healthcare efficiency. While challenges exist, the future of telemedicine in Mexico is promising and has the potential to provide quality healthcare to a larger number of people throughout the country. Telemedicine is on the agenda of all countries that aim to become net zero.

Photo by:   Carina Reverter

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