Amidst the unprecedented lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the online medical consultation platforms are experiencing a substantial increase in traffic, especially in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. When the nation is under lockdown, and the active cases of coronavirus have passed the 1 million mark, patients fear to go to a clinic or hospital even for general consultation, not to mention the limited seat availability in these facilities.
The doctors have hiked their fees for face to face consultation. The risk of getting the virus is much higher while examining patients in the clinic or going to their home for a medical examination. They also have to take necessary precautions such as wearing PPE kit, etc. which explains the fee hike. Hence, people prefer online medical consultation platforms rather than going to a doctor’s clinic or calling the doctor home.
During the lockdown, the Union Health Ministry urged people to take advantage of telemedicine services. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also welcomed the idea of telemedicine. The IMA President, Dr. Rajan Sharma, told IANS that earlier telemedicine was not that trustworthy because there were no regulations, but the government’s new “telemedicine practice guidelines” have clarified many apprehensions of medical professionals. These guidelines legitimize the practice of remote consultations and pave the way for widespread telemedicine adoption in the future.
In an interview with the Business Standard, the co-founder, and CEO of the Medical tele-consultancy startup ‘Practo’, ShashankND said that there has been a significant increase in the number of people using online consultation. The number of users is increasing by an average of over 100 percent week-on-week. He said that psychiatry (mental health), pediatrics, gynecology, and dermatology are some of the specialties that are in high demand.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has completed the dry run of a video clinic which facilitates consultation of specialists from 20 departments, including medicine, ophthalmology, gastroenterology, etc. over a video call.
AIIMS IT official Dr. Deepak Agarwal told TOI that the video clinic is developed by National Informatics Centre. It allows uploading discharge summary and investigation reports for better consultation. This facility reduces the hospital’s burden, which had almost 10,000 regular and follow-up patients every day. People had to come from different cities and states for follow-ups, but now with the help of this facility, they can consult their doctors from home without the risk of exposing themselves to coronavirus.