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Telemedicine in India – what should you know about it

The ability to respond to a patient at their time of need is possibly the most important service we provide as physicians.

In most cities, seeing your doctor usually involves on or more of these:

All of these may not coincide with the patient’s hour of need, which is why telemedicine assumes relevance and importance.

How does telehealth service work

Telemedicine, is simply a phone or a video-call (Whatsapp/ Facetime/ Skypeconsult) with your doctor.

Telemedicine offers a good alternative for some conditions that could be handled safely during the hour of a patient’s need, with a quick follow up to review tests or see how the patient is doing.

It is a well known fact that the three pillars of healthcare - Access, Cost and Quality - are difficult to provide in one setting; however, since Telemedicine offers avenues where all three can be achieved, I therefore decided to join a practice/service that does this with utmost rigour, RoweDocs for US Clients & Practo or direct consults for Indian clients

Timings & Payment

9 AM - 9 PM Message Via SMS / Whatsapp (email response may take longer), type of problem, patient name & age & preferred time to do teleconsult

Rs 500 per tele- consult. Fee to be paid by bank transfer/PayTM.

Patient will receive an email summary of the consult once payment has been received.

The Push for Patient Safety & timely response

Telemedicine offers a unique opportunity to provide timely care and focus on a patient’s safety.

As a doctor, patient safety remains my utmost priority and I fervently believe that access to timely health care / Telemedicine must be supported by formal systems of medicine i.e. Hospitals, Emergency Room, Clinic.

This includes providing patients with a care plan that tells them clearly at what point they should go to the ER / or see their primary care doctor, both of which are facilitated by telemedicine.

What are some typical problems that can be handled by a Teleconsult

Besides acute care for (usually) simple problems like urinary tract infections (UTIs), sore throat, early cough, fever, patients with chronic diseases like diabetes & high blood pressure may have blood sugar/ BP readings which can also easily be managed through a telemedicine consult, without the hassle of a visit.

Furthermore, with regards to decisions on when to hospitalize, this service is particularly useful in my geriatric practice where emergencies come up often for caregivers and decisions need to be made quickly; for instance, new onset change in behaviour like increased drowsiness, or agitation, or even a fall.

Other times it could be a lab report that appears concerning and is hard for a layperson to interpret.

The Opportunity to Listen Closely, is key for a good Telehealth provider

I enjoy the privilege and flexibility of practicing medicine in India and California, and have learnt over the years that most of the clues to the patients’ problems lie in the narration of their problem.

Being a Telemedicine provider in India provides me that additional platform to do what I love while allowing for a cross-cultural skill transference and flexibility so that I can nurture my entire ecosystem and keep it safe and healthy.