Telemedicine, as the name suggests, is the use of Tele (Distance) and Medicine to consult a Doctor, has started gaining acceptance among all age groups. With restrictions imposed on hospital and clinic visitations, the Doctors, along with the entire medical fraternity, want to consult online for ensuring the safety of their patients and reducing their risk of contracting the deadly virus.
Why Telemedicine Matters Now The Most?
We are currently living in a world of crisis where social distancing is the new life mantra. Everyone everywhere is fighting a battle with an invisible enemy. Ironically, the advancement in Science & Technology is not enough to fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The current pandemic, lockdown, and restrictions have made people all over the world embrace technology to stay in touch with their loved ones. Communities and social groups are now using tools that were used only by Corporates and Enterprises. The majority of social functions I participate in are through Zoom, Google Meet, or other such technologies.
How Hospitals Are Handling The Shift?
During the lockdown period, Hospital Out-Patient Departments that were shut down are now opened up to serve patients. However, the risk of getting infected is still high, with cases of even Doctors and Nurses testing positive for COVID-19 (a considerable loss in the facilitation of care in the current crisis). Although mitigation of risk to a certain extent is successful with the use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and redirection of patients with fever to Fever Clinics by Doctors, the situation for Doctors and Patients remains sensitive.
Hospitals are now figuring out the best way to serve patients and create awareness among doctors & operations staff on the use of technology. Telemedicine, at this point, can break the chain of the spread of COVID-19 and help with the initial assessment of COVID-19 symptoms. This has enabled Doctor Consultations to shift from in-person visits to e-visits. Some of the scenarios are listed below.
Most patients do not take serious note of the follow-up date and instructions due to long travel and wait times. Telemedicine decreases ‘No Show’ consultations for scheduled follow-ups.
Patients with flu-like symptoms or minor ailments can be assessed and diagnosed through telemedicine consultations.
Patients with chronic conditions requiring periodic follow-ups can be consulted through telemedicine. This will prevent added stress of travel and risk of infection due to existing comorbidities.
When diagnostic results are received for clinical review, patients and doctors can now easily connect through a scheduled telemedicine consultation.
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has issued guidelines on handling New Patient Visits & Follow-up visits, medications that can be prescribed, and addressing compliance and legal issues. A glance about Telemedicine and related compliance is also available as a FAQ here.
Telemedicine is here to stay!
The added advantages of telemedicine for patients are that they do not have to wait longer than they should or travel long distances to their preferred doctor. Patients have also testified about the comparative reduction in their expenses. Physicians, on the other hand, have increased consultations with fewer ‘No Shows’ and effective utilization of their scheduled time.
MyTeleOPD continues to help hospitals and clinics facilitate thousands of OPD consultations and create awareness among Doctors, Patients, Operations Staff on the advantages and proper use of Telemedicine.