Reaching the unreached faster and more economically is an enormous advantage of information and communication technology (ICT). Geographical barriers, quality concerns, and economic blocks can be overcome. There’s an urgent need for accessible, cost-effective, high-quality healthcare services, and ICT uses Telemedicine to meet these demands.
Telemedicine uses ICT to provide and support healthcare when distance separates the participants. It may even be divided into branches, such as teleradiology, teledermatology, telepathology, and telepsychology.
- Care and regular assessment of chronic conditions – A visit to the doctor may be difficult due to a lack of time, money, or accessible health services. Telemedicine is a viable choice to provide treatment, enable monitoring, and support preventive healthcare.
- Convenience – Some people choose telemedicine over a visit to a clinic. For developing nations, it means better access to essential healthcare. It means comfort for patients who cannot visit a clinic or need to be accompanied.
- Control of infections – Situations like the Pandemic can significantly benefit from telemedicine, allowing patients to seek care from the comfort of their homes. Covid-19 has played a vital role in propagating telemedicine in India.
- Cause assessment – Doctors may ask the patient to show their living conditions, water storage method, etc. to assess possible causes for infection objectively. Besides diagnosis, this process can be used for prevention, e.g., dengue.
Although telemedicine originated from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s need to monitor astronauts in space, there is no rocket science to it, especially now. Besides individual practitioners providing such services, telemedicine centres are emerging. Facilitating and promoting the development of telemedicine centres include:
- National level mobilisation to popularise this system.
- Policies and strategies to create an environment conducive to telemedical practices.
- Training and development of centre personnel.
- Regular monitoring mechanisms to ensure quality service provision at scale.
Covid-19 saw several corporate leaders, healthcare providers, and non-profit organisations join hands with the government to fight against the disease. Healthcare consultations took a new form by setting up centres that provide consultations telephonically. Internet-based platforms have emerged that link doctors of different specialisations with patients needing care and consultation.
Sambhav Foundation has also been involved in this process. Our telemedicine centre at Palghar, Maharashtra, has been providing consultation services in different areas of healthcare. Initially perceived as unconventional, the Palgarh model has been a stellar example of how community hesitancy can be overcome. Telemedicine gained momentum in the past few months, proving its quality and confidence. Within a month, the consultations increased by more than ten-fold.