According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2009), health systems around the world are failing women and girls due to their specific health needs. The WHO states that women’s health has now become an urgent priority, however the data surrounding this issue is limited and often unreliable (WHO, 2009). Telehealth has shown to be an effective solution when it comes to women’s health and we believe that telehealth can help with three important objectives to improve the health of women across the globe.
- Empower women
One example for empowering women is, how telehealth helps indigenous women in rural Australia. According to an article in the Journal of Primary Healthcare, women in indigenous communities found it very difficult to access health information when they saw themselves confronted with an unplanned pregnancy. Women who were questioned about what helped them to deal with their situation all mentioned that telemedicine was the answer to their problems. They were able to access the information and help they required to explore options and take next steps. Another point mentioned was that the women felt less reluctant to talk to someone virtually rather than having to travel many miles to talk to somebody in an unfamiliar environment. The comfort of home helped them to take the necessary steps. The availability of telehealth technology was the significant factor for these aboriginal women to feel empowered to handle a difficult personal situation that otherwise might have caused added stress and mental health issues.
- Improve Maternal Health
The number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth due to entirely preventable reasons exceeds 500,000 each year. Mortality rates remain highest in rural and remote locations, especially in sub-Saharan countries and Southern Asia. The availability of antenatal services such as ultrasound check-ups has shown to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes. Not solely, but also for this reason, we added a portable ultrasound device to our range of peripherals as it is an important addition to ensure telehealth solutions can help improve women’s health across the world.
- Improve the support available to victims of violence
There are many forms of domestic violence against women and while there are telehealth solutions already in place, offering mental health support to women experiencing domestic violence, emergency examinations such as using telecolposcopy to document vaginal injury after sexual assault is a much less discussed topic. If a colposcopy can successfully capture proof of sexual assault, the consequences of this proof cannot be underestimated. This evidence can be used hold perpetrators accountable and presented as evidence in court cases. There are limitations to this evidence as sexual assault can have taken place even with no injury findings during the examination. This still concludes that even if a colposcopy cannot always provide proof of sexual assault , the cases where the examination can provide documented images of injury are significant. This documented proof can be used as evidence to support women’s cases and to help put the perpetrator behind bars. (Sommers, Marilyn. Journal of Forensic Nursing). Telemedicine has the advantage of giving trained Healthcare Professionals the chance to examine the victims immediately after the event (if reported), thus making it more likely to find evidence of assault. Delays in reporting can have negative effects on capturing colposcopic evidence.
Given the many benefits ultrasound and colposcopy brings to women’s health in combination with telehealth, Visionflex has added the iViz Ultrasound to its product range along with the Ecleris Video Colposcope to help improve women’s health across the globe.
We believe it is important that the aforementioned objectives to improve women’s health are dealt with in collaboration with health professional and agencies around the globe. The goals are closely intertwined and development in one area will promote improvement in others. It is important that the global regions, social, political and economic climates are considered when forming a strategic approach which is required to achieve optimal health outcomes.