The Rise Of Telemedicine And It’s Extent
“Telemedicine is not only a preferable method of communication regarding any medical issue, but also generates the EMR for each consultation”
The dean’s daughter couldn’t be taken to the hospital when her water broke that evening, Incessant rains and subsequent flooding had brought the city to a standstill. An enterprising bunch of students from the college carried out the delivery as the dean’s younger doctor daughter guided them on Skype. This was in 2009 in a movie titled, ‘3 Idiots.’ Six to seven years later, online doctor consultation is a more common reality. And it’s not an emergency tool, prompted by a natural calamity, it’s a need of the fast times we live in.
The Extent Of ‘On Call Consultation’
India is mushrooming and funding in this space rapidly. More than a dozen app based start-ups offer online video consultations. While most of these start ups are eyeing the urban market, there are few also catering to rural India. The limited bandwidth issue across tier two – three towns of India has given not just the flexibility to these start-ups but also forced them to look at it differently.
Most of these products are now shifting from ‘online video consultations’ to ‘on call consultations.’ The term ‘on call’ goes well for the people of rural India as it doesn’t require internet at all, to consult with the expert doctors. The medical prescriptions too are also sent as an SMS which again is independent of the internet.
Another angle to look at the problem is that in the rural areas, there is a big taboo around many diseases related to gynaecology, mental health and sexual disorders. The families themselves are reluctant to take their wards to the respective doctors for the same. Most of this is attributed to society pressure and image consciousness in the families.
Leveraging telemedicine, the families can not only consult expert sexologists, psychiatrists, gynaecologists, etc. but can also get the prescriptions in the form of an SMS. The vanity number of such a start-up has PAN India reach and delivers the medicine at home as well. This feature has beautifully erased the taboo around these issues and in the most effective manner.
A Preferable Method Of Communication
There is always a challenge in front of the Indian government to keep an eye on the upcoming diseases from rural India, because most of the hospitals in the smaller towns still have handwritten medical records, hence comprehensive analysis of the key factors present in these prescriptions over cloud is not possible.
Telemedicine on the other hand is not only a preferable method of communication regarding any medical issue, but also generates the EMR for each consultation. The symptoms/ lab tests linked diagnosis is stacked properly in the backend of these products. This highly refined data can be useful in assessing the current status of a particular disease in a specific state/city/region/etc. Not just this, but on the basis of the behaviour of the previous patients, the telemedicine services can actually predict which disease is about to erupt and in which area. This will actually be highly useful for the competent authorities to take the necessary actions on the same.
It wasn’t long ago when the media highlighted the condition of the health centres in rural India, where drips were hanging on the branches of a tree and patients were lying on the ground under it. A doctor looks after more than three thousand patients at a decent PHC (primary health centre) in India. More often than not, the doctor is not even available for the same. It is a common scenario due to the lack of infrastructure.
Efficient And Holistic Treatment
With the help of the availability of expert doctors ‘on call’ this scenario can be helped up to a decent level. In Hyderabad during the floods, some telemedicine start-ups were also successful in providing free medical consultations across various medical domains to those stuck in the floods unable to go to a doctor for any treatment.
Thus, with time and advancement of mobile diagnostics and internet in healthcare, telemedicine shall become more efficient and holistic in terms of the treatment it can provide to the people hailing from the rural towns across India.