Healthcare in Jamaica, as you can imagine, looks very different than healthcare of the United States.
In Jamaica, there are around three dozen public hospitals in the area. All of these hospitals offer free services to their citizens. While this may sound like a dream in the midst of rising healthcare costs in the US, free care and services does not necessarily mean quality healthcare. In fact, free healthcare typically comes with longer wait times, which means that most citizens are not seen when they so desperately need it.
Jamaican hospitals also have a reputation of being unreliable. Hospitals have to turn away patients for treatment because of the lack of space and personnel. Institutions are filled to capacity with patients and sometimes lack proper equipment to perform major procedures. Prescription drugs are difficult to obtain due to the long lines of patients waiting for their own.
It is not unheard of that patients will have to wait between two to three hours – or even up to 24 hours – before a pharmacy opens to pick up their prescription and, even then, sometimes may not get the medication they were waiting for. Private doctors and physicians are available in the country, but you have to have the insurance to cover their high costs – a fee that not many Jamaican citizens can afford.
The rise in telehealth, a relatively new system for most countries but especially for Jamaica, is perhaps the solution to most of these issues. Medical devices can help connect patients with their doctors using platforms such as live video streaming, mobile phones, or computers to evaluate and diagnose health concerns in real time. The major hurdle that telehealth is working to combat is eliminating the geographical discrepancies that lead to lesser care.
There are already several telehealth centres in surgical suites open in Jamaica, however, none effectively connecting the patient to the physician. EMED Jamaica is the only company that has the innovative telemedicine technology able to create the patient-centric network that these patients and physicians need! EMED Jamaica’s founder, Duane Boise, has made this his mission and wants to transform the healthcare industry one step at a time.
The United States has also seen some big changes in their healthcare system. Unlike Jamaica, US citizens are required to have health insurance for visits and treatment. Unfortunately, this can get kind of pricey.
In 2014, the United States implemented the American Care Act, which dropped the uninsured rate of American citizens drastically. Even with the ACA in place, there are still many obstacles that America has to overcome. While the US is ahead of Jamaica in terms of telehealth, they are still seeing new technologies being introduced that enhance the way physicians and citizens look at healthcare.
For example, do you know someone who wears a Fitbit? These portable tracking devices monitor your physical activity through the day and your sleeping patterns at night. Why is this so remarkable? These devices can give people an idea of how much energy they are exerting during the day, as well as give them data about the amount of sleep they are getting per night. Both patients and doctors can use this as a way to build healthier habits that can lead to longer lives.
Mobile health apps have also become a popular outlet for Americans. These apps can help them monitor their weight, blood pressure, and heart rate to reduce unnecessary, and sometimes costly, visits to the doctors. Additionally, self-service kiosks have taken away problems of registration and hassle of waiting in line to speak with an associate at the doctor’s office. Reducing wait times in offices and pharmacies help patients quickly complete their health screening without ever having to interact with someone!
Between the United States and Jamaica, there are still many different concerns when it comes to healthcare. The hope is that the innovative technology being used in the States will continue to transform healthcare and then can continue to be introduced in Jamaica to better serve their citizens.