The ongoing pandemic has made one thing glaringly evident — that when it comes to doctors, there is not one day that they are not on duty. The pandemic has brought about many changes, one of them being the fact that instead of walking up to a hospital, patients are now being encouraged to seek an appointment with their doctors virtually. Pregnant women, people with lifestyle disorders, and even those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are showing mild symptoms only, are all seeking time with their doctors by means of tele-consultations.
And while the advantages of tele-consulations are many, there are also some shortcomings, which doctors and their patients deal with on a regular basis. This Doctor’s Day, here is what these two doctors had to say about it.
“The pandemic has caused unprecedented chaos and disruption in conventional healthcare services. It has also underscored the importance of tele-medicine and home-based healthcare services in catering to the increased demand. Tech-based alternatives are more comfortable and benefit patients who cannot travel to the hospital for various reasons,” Dr Vishal Sehgal, Medical Director of Portea Medical — a a healthcare startup — said.
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“In tandem with home care by expert doctors or medical staff, tele-medicine has helped in meeting various demands such as chronic disease management, routine check-ups and attending to minor ailments. This form of consultation, however, also poses some challenges for doctors and healthcare providers,” he added.
According to Dr Sehgal, the biggest impediment is the lack of technical knowledge among those who seek consultation, especially in case of older patients, “who may find it difficult to use technology to effectively communicate with doctors or in understanding the protocols, etc.”
“Then, there is also the issue of connectivity and bandwidth, which may not be optimum always. Often, patients may not want to pay for this mode of consultation, apart from experiencing a lack of satisfaction since the interaction is not face to face. The need of the hour, therefore, is to create awareness among both the doctors and patients, as a way to overcome these bottlenecks,” he explained.
Dr Yash Gulati, Senior Consultant, Senior Joint Replacement & Spine Orthopedic Surgeon, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, agreed. “Tele-consultation has become a great boon for patients, especially the elderly, in these unprecedented times. But, it cannot replace one-on-one physical examination,” he opined.
“Many a time, the follow ups become a problem, too. Also, sometimes when the call comes from a peripheral area where the mobile/internet connectivity is not good, it causes some challenges for the patient as well as the doctor,” he said.
According to a recent report by online portal, Practo, online consultation for healthcare has increased by 500 per cent between March 1 and May 31, 2020. During the period, about five crore Indians accessed healthcare online, with an average frequency of two online doctor consultations per month, per user, as per the report.
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