The management of COVID-19 cases through telemedicine in Brazil.
Becker, João Luiz
de Oliveira, Elise Botteselle
Umpierre, Roberto Nunes
Gonçalves, Marcelo Rodrigues
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Montelongo, A., Becker, J. L., Roman, R., de Oliveira, E. B., Umpierre, R. N., Gonçalves, M. R., Silva, R., et al. (2021). The management of COVID-19 cases through telemedicine in Brazil.. PloS one, 16 (7)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254339
In Dec 2020 Brazil became one of the worldwide epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 7.2M reported cases. Brazil has a large territory with unequal distribution of healthcare resources including physicians. Resource limitation has been one of the main factors hampering Brazil's response to the COVID-19 crisis. Telemedicine has been an effective approach for COVID-19 management as it allows to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and provides support to remote rural locations. Here we present the analyses of teleconsultations from a countrywide telemedicine service (TelessáudeRS-UFRGS, TRS), that provides physician-to-physician remote support during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. We performed a descriptive analysis of the teleconsultation incoming calls and a text analysis from the call transcripts. Our findings indicate that TRS teleconsultations in Brazil experienced an exponential increment of 802.% during a period of 6 days, after the first death due to COVID-19 was reported. However, the number of teleconsultations cases decreased over time, despite the number of reported COVID-19 cases continuously increasing. The results also showed that physicians in low-income municipalities, based on GDP per capita, are less likely to consult the telemedicine service despite facing higher rates of COVID-19 cases. The text analysis of call transcripts from medical teleconsultations showed that the main concern of physicians were "asymptomatic" patients. We suggest an immediate reinforcement of telehealth services in the regions of lower income as a strategy to support COVID-19 management.
Humans, Telemedicine, Remote Consultation, Physicians, Rural Health, Primary Health Care, Brazil, Healthcare Disparities, COVID-19
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254339
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/326788
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/