Telemedicine is the new way of providing health care services through the digital network. Telemedicine is not something that has been started in the 21st century, earlier in 1959 the doctors of Nebraska did the teleconsultation for neurological examination. So, as we know telemedicine has been practiced since the 1950s but was not popular enough. In recent times, since the COVID19 pandemic has hit globally in 2019, it has become difficult for people to get out of their homes and visit a hospital. This pandemic has taken a toll on people’s lives globally. SARS-CoV-2 is highly transmissible. It is spread through droplets of saliva during sneezing, coughing, or through nose discharge. Thus, it is important to cover the nose and mouth with a mask and to use hand sanitizer for safety purposes.
During these times of pandemic, where visiting a hospital poses a risk of acquiring this deadly disease, telemedicine comes to play an important role. Telemedicine has its advantages and disadvantages.
- It reduces the travel expenses, saves time for the patient
- Access to all the medical specialist
- Maintenance of electronic records and documents
- It won’t disrupt the patient’s daily routine
- Information provided through telemedicine would be misinterpreted
- Confidentiality of the patient information is crucial in telemedicine
- Privacy of the documents and records require, good technical staff, maintaining it
- The reimbursement process should be developed through telemedicine
- Since telemedicine requires a good internet network and speed, it is problematic in some geographical places where there is a bad network.
- All the technical setup related to software, server issues that may arise during the patient interaction with the doctor needs to be solved. This requires a hub of IT professionals.
- Telemedicine requires extra time for processing electronic prescription
Major benefits of telemedicine
- These teleconsultations are beneficial for chronic diseases which need long-term management. Some of these major diseases are diabetes, hypertension, asthma.
- Patients with these diseases are more susceptible to COVID-19. So, in these recent times of social distancing, teleconsultation would be more beneficial to these patients.
- Since in these pandemic times there is increasing mental stress due to economic crisis, due to fear of getting affected by COVID19, so psychological teleconsultation may benefit the people to reduce this stress.
- Teleconsultation also reduces the visit to specialty hospitals by treating them at their place.
- It is also beneficial for elderly people, disabled children who, rely on other people for their daily routine work. Also, elderly people are more prone to COVID19 infection due to comorbidities, so teleconsultation would be reduced to the risk of being exposed to the infection.
There are many telemedicine portals provided by various companies some of them are Nutrimedy, Beam, GYANT, Hale health, Zipnosis, SnapMD, Heal.
In India ISRO’s telemedicine network that links Chennai’s Apollo hospital with Apollo’s rural hospital at Aragonda village. This network has expanded to 45 more rural hospitals and 15 super-specialty hospitals. Also, in these times of pandemic Indian government has started a portal for teleconsultation which is free of cost for the patients. This the link for this portal https://esanjeevaniopd.in/About.
To summarize, telemedicine is a beneficial way of offering health care services in this pandemic. Teleconsultation reduces the risk of getting infected with COVID19 infection by maintaining social distancing. It is beneficial for the elderly, disabled children, patients with chronic diseases. Thus, this telemedicine will grow and will be adopted by more health care professionals to render their services.
However, these teleconsultations will not help in emergency conditions, and also won't be as accurate as in-person check-ups. But teleconsultation will help in providing primary care to the patients in the current pandemic.
1. Agarwal N, Jain P, Pathak R, Gupta R. Telemedicine in India: A tool for transforming health care in the era of COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Education and Health Promotion. 2020;9.