Meningococcal meningitis is a serious health condition that has life-threatening consequences to affected victims. The importance of effective disease management cannot be overemphasized. This paper shows that telehealth helps to manage the disease by promoting self-management processes. Three questions characterize this analysis: How can telehealth be incorporated in the surveillance system for meningococcal meningitis? What are the implications of telehealth in the surveillance system? And what are the benefits and challenges of adopting telehealth?
How Tele-Health could be incorporated in the Surveillance System for Meningococcal Meningitis
Meningococcal meningitis is a serious health condition characterized by the inflammation of spinal or brain membranes (WebMD, 2015). Without prompt treatment, meningococcal could cause life-threatening disabilities, or death, to its victims (WebMD, 2015). Tele-health systems, which depend on the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to provide long-distance health care services, could greatly improve the detection of meningococcal meningitis (Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, 2008). This contribution could help it to treat/manage the condition before it gets worse. In this regard, telehealth systems could improve the management of meningococcal meningitis (U.K Department of Health, 2011). Tele-health systems could also help in tracking meningococcal meningitis by locating areas that are worst hit by the disease (Lombardo & Buckeridge, 2007). Similarly, it could help in understanding the epidemiology of the disease, thereby making it easy for public health officials to manage it.
Implications of Tele-health in the Surveillance System
Tele-health services strive to improve the health outcomes of people who suffer from life-long health conditions such as meningococcal meningitis (Lombardo & Buckeridge, 2007). Since they promote self-care management practices, they are bound to reduce the reliance on hospitals and care homes for people who suffer from the disease (Newzealand Ministry of Health, 2011). Telehealth also has implications that span beyond telecommunications because it could redefine the provision of health care services by emphasizing the importance of partnerships across the health and social service sectors. It may also force health administrators to redefine professional roles through staff training to get the best out of technology when providing health services to people who suffer from meningococcal meningitis (Government of Western Australia, Department of Health, 2008).
Benefits and Challenges of Tele-health in the Disease Surveillance System
This paper has already shown that telehealth could greatly help in the detection and management of meningococcal meningitis. However, its application has significant benefits and challenges. One benefit of telehealth is the improvement of ongoing primary care for patients suffering from meningococcal meningitis (Rowlands & Moder, 2002). Tele-health also helps to integrate health care into daily life by changing the traditional model of health care service delivery which limits primary care to a few office visits in a week; now telehealth emphasizes self-management as a credible way of managing lifelong or chronic health issues (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2015). Given the success of telehealth in managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, its potential for improving self-care management systems, for people who suffer from meningococcal meningitis, is also high. One significant challenge is the transfer of data across state and national boundaries (Schneider, 1998). This challenge portends several ethical and legal implications because confidentiality agreements usually characterize medical data, thereby limiting the transfer of information across administrative boundaries (Lombardo & Buckeridge, 2007).
This paper has shown that telehealth programs do not introduce a new way of managing meningococcal meningitis; instead, they improve traditional methods of managing the disease by increasing the efficiency of traditional health care services. This way, they improve primary care by promoting self-care management practices. Health administrators may have to redefine health care service roles if they want to exploit the advantages of telehealth services. Increased collaboration with other health stakeholders may also be essential if health care service professionals want to benefit from the advantages of telehealth services.
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WebMD. (2015). An Overview of Meningococcal Meningitis. Web.