Telemedicine – Your Doctor Is Just a Smart Phone Call, Away

There was no legislation on the practice of telemedicine till now in India, but the recent release of guidelines on March 25, 2020 by the Health Ministry plus the Covid 19 pandemic has fast tracked this concept to become reality

By Namrata Kohli 

India is seeing a new way in which patients seek medical help from doctors and healthcare practitioners. With fear of contracting infections in the wake of Covid 19 pandemic, people are refraining from physically going to the hospitals and are instead consulting their doctors through video, phone and internet-based platforms like web, chat, apps. No wonder then, telemedicine has got a shot in the arm with the likes of Medicity in Gurugram seeing ten times jump in average daily remote consultations while Practo has registered a 100% increase week-on-week, and Portea medical has been receiving 100 COVID-19 related queries a day.

Teleconsult is especially popular for lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and chronic endocrinological disorders such as hypothyroidism which need a regular, almost quarterly check-up. This can be done remotely as most of the times there is some dosage adjustment based on reports and telemedicine can be a great tool for time management for both doctor and the patient. Mental health is another big area what with the social stigma associated with “seeing” a psychiatrist.

There is high demand for “second opinion” consultations in telemedicine where people submit and upload all reports and take advice especially for ailments such as cancer. For hospitals that have super specialists, there is a huge emerging “doctor to doctor” consult where one doctor (eg a general physician) is able to take advise over a niche area from a super specialist (such as a head and neck cancer specialist). A lot of patients come from other cities and after the treatment, the subsequent follow up can be also done remotely.

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