Telemedicine makes the concept of “distance” and “terrain”redundant
The basic distribution of health services with the aid of electronic communication or software is widely known as Telemedicine services.
This is a highly attractive alternative to the conventional system of health management. According to the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care (2012;1:10–9), nearly 86% of all the medical visits in India are made by the rural population with the majority still traveling more than 100 km to avail healthcare facilities; of which 70-80% is borne out of pocket, landing them in a never-ending debt trap. The government has targeted the goal of improving healthcare facilities in the urban areas but not as much in rural areas of the country which actually makes up for 70% of the population.
In most parts of the rural areas, there is no accessibility to specialists like Internal Medicine, Radiology, Dermatology, Psychiatrists, etc, let alone superspecialists like Cardiologists, Nephrologists, Critical Care Specialists, and Neurologists, etc. In view of the fact that there is poor availability of doctors in rural as well as in some parts of urban areas, innovative health technology like Telemedicine services and Tele ICU is the need of the hour. Therefore, teleradiology, telepsychiatry, teledermatology, telenephrology, Tele ICU, etc are more preferable alternatives than expecting the patient to undertake a long and uncomfortable, oft dangerous travel.
According to the survey report of WHO, access, equity, quality, and cost-effectiveness are key issues facing healthcare in both developed and less economically developed countries. Due to the problem of transportation, sometimes it is really grueling for poor people to reach the hospitals. Telemedicine has challenged conventional health facilities by giving convenience to the rural section of the country. Telehealth technology is highly beneficial for both developed and developing countries. Telehealth technology provides an assurance and convenience to the patients to get diagnosed and treated without any difficulty in their local region itself; get the necessary medical advice and prescription by an online platform, video calls, or a normal call.
Although there are some downsides to telemedicine esp. technological barriers which can interrupt the patient and doctor sessions, still there is no uncertainty that Telemedicine provides equivalent quality of healthcare to the patients vis-a-vis conventional consults. Above all, telemedicine provides patients safety as well as staff safety in case of most of the contagious infections such as COVID-19 which the world is facing together currently.
Telemedicine Services can be a boon in this pandemic as it is the future of healthcare services.
~ Author (Himani Chandel)