Some social and medical practices that are happening in response to covid-19 will remain in place when the crisis eventually subsides. Telemedicine is one such practice. It is expected that telemedicine will play the role of the first consultation.
Telemedicine allows doctors to see patients with a range of problems and can improve patient care. Due to countrywide lockdown, citizens have not been able to consult with doctors physically. This situation led the Indian government to change the regulations around remote delivery of healthcare services and allow telemedicine via video, audio or text.
But, telemedcine is unlikely to disappear aftare the COVID-19 is controlled. Once doctors and patients use it, it is unlikely they will stop.
Startups such as Practo, DocPrime, mFine, CallHealth and Lybrate were operating telemedicine services in India.
Until recently, official telemedicine guidelines in India were vague. But on the first day of the lockdown on March 25, the Medical Council of India introduced telemedicine practice guidelines, making WhatsApp an approved platform.
Despite many barriers, telemedicine has its advantages, as it increases access to primary and specialist medical care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to healthcare has decreased because non-urgent in-person visits are discouraged.
The Centre’s recent guidelines allowing for widespread use of telemedicine services came as a shot in the arm for telehealth crusaders in the country, among them the Telemedicine Society of India that has long been battling to use the technology.
India’s recent move is in line with the rest of the world where several nations, have deployed telemedicine to reach people who have been unable to come to hospital, to reduce footfalls in hospitals, and to even provide medical and mental health counselling to countless people.
India only has one government doctor for every 1,139 people, whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a ratio of 1:1,000.
Telemedicine is a sector that can bridg the healthcare gap between rural India and urban India. In rural India, where the access to medical facilities, specialists opinion and advance healthcare amenities are limited, telemedicine acts as a healthcare provider bringing access to the specialist doctors to these areas.