Prof. Dr. Nebahat Bulut

Virtual Hospitals Are A Part of the “What Does My Report Mean?” Project Initiated on Twitter.

Medicine is one of the fields that rapidly welcomes technological advances. One of the latest developments in this regard is the “telemedicine” method in which medical services are provided via technological devices. Some private hospitals in our country have been using this service for some time. Two examples of this service are that patients can access their analysis results 24/7 and private hospitals can access imaging conducted in state hospitals. The method is used more and more as it allows patients to receive their results without actually going to the hospital and get their routine checks.

Where Did the Idea of Virtual Hospital Come From?

We have experienced an accelerated flow of developments in different areas of life during the pandemic. As COVID-19 mostly infects people through physical contact, people have been hesitating to go to hospitals. I took a compulsory leave from the hospital I work around mid-March. And I was looking for ways to help our patients with my medical knowledge and to support the #StayAtHome campaign. On March 19, I initiated a campaign on my Twitter account to make the medical analysis results and reports public. The name of the project was “What Does My Report Mean?” I received around 250 feedbacks for my campaign. However, the campaign reached beyond people who wanted to be informed about their results and I received questions from people thinking that they showed COVID-19 symptoms and questions outside my speciality. For this reason, I tweeted the hashtag #SanalHastane (#VirtualHospital) on March 30, with the aim of providing patients online access to other doctors. I added the names of several doctors and their specialties in my tweet. And this turned out to be a very nice initiative. I received messages from many doctors and specialists who wanted their names on the volunteer list. And the number of volunteer doctors went from 15, 60, 75 to 165 within 15 days. Our tweets were viewed by 4 million people in March, 20.3 million in April, and 9 million in May. We currently have 44 thousand followers.

Virtual Hospital continues to inform people on Twitter, answer their questions and sometimes guide those who need to be hospitalised immediately. We also carry out public service ads and social projects to eliminate violence in healthcare.

Demand for Virtual Hospital Is Increasing Day by Day

Virtual Hospital gained the attention of the public and then the press and non-governmental organizations at a time when it was risky to receive physical healthcare services. During the pandemic process, many healthcare institutions offered services such as remote data collection and paid physician examination interview. However, Turkey is the only country where physicians and specialists, all of whom actively work in the field, wanted to provide voluntary services.

I believe that this will be an important example for future attempts in the sector. The medical technology is currently providing services in which patients can select their doctors, get a second opinion, doctors monitor patients at home, and when necessary, the initial results are taken with house-type sensors and home tests, and the patient is invited to the hospital.