OPINION: Five instances of teleconsultation proving to be a boon

Telemedicine has bridged the gap between coverage and rising costs of healthcare

Apollo-Telehealth Vikram Thaploo, CEO of Apollo Telehealth

Telemedicine, with its potential to provide remote diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of patients via videoconferencing on the internet, has proven to be a boon in bridging the gap between coverage and rising costs of healthcare services in the nation.

There are several issues with the current healthcare system that relate to the availability of doctors and access to healthcare. Additionally, the fact that there are fewer doctors in rural areas than in urban ones results in significant travel expenses for rural patients. For those who are chronically ill and those who require sophisticated, expensive, long-term monitoring and treatment approaches, this is exceedingly challenging. The best answers to these flaws in the current healthcare system are provided through telemedicine. Here are five instances when telemedicine showed how it can not only deliver a more convenient experience to staff and patients but also extend the reach of care to those who may have trouble accessing it.

Instance 1

In May 2020, a middle-aged woman in Jengal, West Garo Hills, had an emergency tooth extraction owing to fluid oozing from between her bottom teeth. For a week, she had terrible discomfort and swelling around her jaw and chin. If left untreated, her disease might progress into Ludwigs Angina, a potentially fatal ailment. All dental treatments had been stopped in several areas of the state due to Covid-19 and the potential for aerosol transfer, which restricted emergency services. At the period in question, the hospital's dentist was likewise unavailable. In these challenging times, the telemedicine service, which was introduced on April 29, 2020, has proven to be a blessing. The state medical staff from the health centre called a facial maxilla surgeon in the United States who was known to one of the doctors. The team came together and started a step-by-step procedure with the help of a live camera and through the assistance of the surgeon in the US, they were able to follow instructions and were able to give nerve blocks, drain the pus and extract three teeth. The patient's condition became better; therefore she was discharged.

Instance 2

The eSanjeevani OPD platform launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare completed three lakh teleconsultations within a short period of six months since its launch. The eSanjeevani OPD services enabled patient-to-doctor telemedicine in midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. This helped in containing the spread of Covid-19 infection by ensuring physical distancing and has simultaneously enabled provisions for non-Covid essential healthcare. The number of high tele-consultations is a testimony to its popularity among the citizens.

Instance 3

In another instance, a patient who suffered from a brain stroke in West Bengal was saved thanks to the robust telemedicine infrastructure developed by the state government. The patient was brought to the hospital after suffering a brain stroke. The doctors at the hospital were apprehensive that the 81-year-old patient might not be able to stand on his own and will become bedridden, with one side of his body getting completely paralysed. The possibility of a life-threatening blood clot in his internal veins was also considered to be a danger factor. In order for him to recover from the effects of the stroke, the blood clot issue needed to be resolved within four hours. The hospital immediately made arrangements for conducting the patient's CT scan on an emergency basis. The CT scan data was forwarded right away to Bangur Institute of Neurology (BIN), which has the greatest facilities in the state for handling situations similar to this one. The telemedicine expert team examined the report and advised that it was not a haemorrhage but a case of blood clot and an injection needed to be administered immediately to the patient. Additionally, they sent a prescription for therapy, which was required by protocol. The hospital's medical staff followed the advice, and the patient made a full recovery.

Instance 4

The telemedicine capability with Apollo Telehealth recently played a key role in saving two lives—that of a woman and her child—during an emergency birth at a height of more than 12,000 feet in Kaza. Abruptio Placentae was the mother's condition when she was admitted to the Kaza Community Health Centre (CHC). Though a caesarean section was used to deliver the baby, the mother experienced post-surgical haemorrhage issues. Due to the pre-term delivery and the infant's low birth weight, complications were also beginning to have an impact on the infant. The infant was also born with a blue discoloration. The mother and child had to be monitored 24 hours a day for six days at CHC Kaza through the use of teleconsultation services with experienced doctors from Apollo due to the difficulties in organising logistics for the transportation of the patients given the topographical restrictions. After setting up logistical support, the mother and child were eventually transported to Mission Hospital in Manali. A day after the initial therapeutic treatments, their condition stabilised.

Instance 5

The telemedicine facility of Danteshwari in the Naxal-affected Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh has proved to be a boon for many in the region. When the condition of a pregnant woman from the Ghotpal village deteriorated at the sub-health centre there, the staff immediately contacted the doctor present at the telemedicine control room of the district hospital. The doctor guided the staff via teleconsultation service for the safe delivery. The situation was complicated and had the telemedicine facility not been started, the pregnant woman would not have gotten the right treatment on time.

Vikram Thaploo is the CEO of Apollo Telehealth.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.