Since the outbreak of confirmed cases in the state of Kerela – the second most populated country in the world many new cases of Covid19 communicated in big cities of India such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Patna. The Prime Minister ‘Narendra Modi’ seeing the worsening condition requested all his citizens to understand the gravity of the situation – by appealing to follow the idea of ‘Janta Curfew’ and staying indoors.
Meanwhile, the government is looking into every possible solution to fight with CoVID19. Various initiatives such as free ration supply, basic items of necessities and allowance to daily wage workers are distributed in various parts of India. Amongst a heap of other preventive measures, social distancing, and lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Board of Governors BoG Medical Council of India MCI has outlined a set of guidelines to deliver telemedicine solutions across the nation promising a safe and fast medical assistance.
What is Telemedicine?
This term has its roots dug in the 1950s when a few hospital facilities and medical centers used to operate and communicate with the patients in need of medical care in rural areas. The platform used telecommunication devices such as telephone and fax machines to communicate with each other. This concept is very old but seems fruitful enough to combat the upsurge of pandemic in the modern world. It was helpful to connect doctors worldwide to treat patients by seeking each other’s help and also was hugely useful in areas where specialists were not available.
How Telemedicine Practice is Useful to India:
With the implementation of demonetization in the face of new digital India, smartphones have become an essential piece of a commodity to be available in every house of the country. Today, the internet facility is an option to keep us united during hard times and is expected to make telemedicine treatment an easy to be executed practice.
Smart devices are capable of transmitting multiple videos in a single tap and with an additional benefit of artificial intelligence will help telemedicine to deliver remote healthcare services quickly to patients in their homes, and offices. Along with remote assistance, telemedicine will tackle intense requirements or specialty care during times of emergency. Telemedicine is a stand-alone alternative to physical clinics providing plenty of room for advice-seekers, patients and medical help providers.
Necessary Assistance and Curative Measures by Telemedicine:
Telemedicine just perfectly fit in place to be there for one and all. It works as a virtual nurse available in your service all-the-time. Based on your appointment – telephonic, textual or video conversation, it offers prescriptions written by the doctors. You can also use allied alternatives such as using images, messaging, emails, fax, and others. It is a pensive measure for people as they can consult experts, certified specialists, and medical practitioners anytime they want.
Telemedicine allows medicine experts to precisely diagnose, identify and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology. No matter this approach sounds befuddling as it lacks the necessary equipment to read user condition but in the arrest of plague-like COVID19, this is the best possible technique to treat patients maintaining a distance and thereby reducing any risk of transmission.
Major Highlights of Telecommunication Guidelines:
- Only medical practitioners, registered under the IMC Act 1956, are entitled to provide telemedicine consultation.
- The registered medical practitioners (RMP) are allowed to use text, video or audio-enabled solutions for consultations.
- Telemedicine consultations should not be anonymous, both patient and doctor should know each other’s identity.
- RMPs have to verify the patient’s identity by name, age, address, email ID, phone number, registered ID or any other identification.
- RMPs need to be sure about the patient’s age before prescribing any medication. The practitioner can ask for the patient’s age proof if in doubt.
- If the patient initiates the telemedicine consultation then their consent is implied.
- If a physical examination is a piece of critical information for consultation, the RMPs should not proceed until a physical examination can be arranged.
An online program has been designed by the Medical Council Of India for all registered medical practitioners (RMP) to complete a mandatory course within three years of the release of the guidelines. According to the government, certain restrictions are applied to the type of medications that can be prescribed during a consultation. For example, over-the-counter drugs and medicines used for common conditions come under List O and are liable to be prescribed using any mode of consultation, including chats, calls, etc.
A range of medicines in the ‘List B’ can only be recommended after a follow-up or in-person consultation. Apparently, ‘List A’ has relatively safe medicines that again can be prescribed over video-consultations and in a follow-up consultation for a refill. The government has outlined a few more categories of drugs that cannot be prescribed through telemedicine. These drugs fall under the category of Schedule X of Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules, and any Narcotics and psychotropic substance listed in the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985.
What all Positive Outcomes are Proposed by Telemedicine?
Any kind of disaster, natural or man-made calamity can pose a challenging situation to healthcare institutes and medical care centers in a country. As everybody will knock on the doorstep of doctors, offering medical care to all becomes something impossible to execute. Through telecommunications, the risk of waiting at a clinic or coming in contact with other plague-infected patients will break the spread of COVID19 and offer consultation service to all.
According to the Government Guidelines –
“A telemedicine visit can be conducted without exposing staff to viruses/infections in the times of such outbreaks”.
It’s a corrective remedy for patients to spend less time away from work, save on travel expenses, and keep their privacy. On the other hand, it is an effective measure for providers as it helps them increase revenue, improve efficiency at work, resulting in improved health outcomes, reduced number of missed appointments or cancellations and a secure method of receiving payments.