Telemedicine as a Novelty Before, Now It Has Become a Necessity With the guidelines by NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare allowing a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) to provide telemedicine consultation to patients from across the country, the growth of the sector has accelerated further
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With the use of digital information and communication technologies, which enable access to healthcare services remotely, telemedicine is revolutionising the healthcare delivery and the overall healthcare system. Like so many other technological advancements, telemedicine is quickly moving from novelty to necessity. Thanks to the pandemic, what began as a convenience service for people with least accessibility to healthcare services and those who cannot take out time for in-clinic appointments has now become an inevitable requisite.
Who would have imagined before COVID-19 that a technological innovation like telemedicine would become a breakthrough in the system in a matter of a few months? With the guidelines by NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare allowing a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) to provide telemedicine consultation to patients from across the country, the growth of the sector has accelerated further. Private players are now more willing and motivated to enter the industry without second-guessing plausible consequences. The decade ahead would welcome a lot more innovations in the segment and help it grow exponentially.
Changing the Face of Healthcare
Telemedicine is helping bridge the care access divide by reaching people in remote areas which still lack access to primary healthcare. Moreover, it is a blessing for those who have to take off from their work for routine check-ups. A 2019 survey by M3 Global Research released that the adoption of telemedicine services had increased more than three-fold from 2015, rising from 5 percent to 22 percent.
Another report - Global Telemedicine Market Analysis predicted the global telemedicine market to grow at USD 80.61 billion by 2024. Considering how the rapid spread of the pandemic is impacting the traditional methods of healthcare delivery, telemedicine is now being used much more widely and is expected to grow tremendously. Even medical specialists who previously did not offer any telehealth services or were not well equipped to provide it are now turning their heads to innovative technology.
Healthcare facilities are increasingly using platforms that can support secure and real-time virtual visits to improve care coordination and reach more patients. Considering the present scenario, virtual healthcare makes it possible to deliver services remotely, without the risk of virus exposure. Moreover, gearing up telehealth adoption can make a significant contribution to screening and treatment efforts against coronavirus.
The Potential Healthcare Model is Here to Stay
These challenging times have helped everyone realise the importance and efficiency of telehealth. Even after the pandemic is gone, telemedicine will remain predominant in our healthcare system.
The convenience to handle routine check-ups and simple medical issues virtually is a relief for many. Moreover, for those living in rural or remote areas that lack the qualitative healthcare facility, telemedicine is a heroic experience. If implemented and supported judiciously, telemedicine can deliver tremendous support to the country's healthcare system. Beyond radically improving patient care, telemedicine is a transformative experience for medical specialists as well - for their work-life balance, ability to control over scheduling and serve patients from remotest parts of the country.
The potential of telemedicine is much beyond what is visible. It can alleviate stress on over burdened emergency rooms and urgent care clinics and also, free up hospital beds for needy patients by increasing online availability of physicians.
Summing It All Up
Telemedicine has become a fundamental piece of the Indian health care delivery as it helps address issues of poor healthcare facility, health care costs and accessibility. Moving forward, digital health infrastructure will only continue to improve and expand. What we need to do is ensure that service providers use these tools effectively and appropriately. The modern age medical trainees or specialists are well versed in technology, but the same does not hold for medical consultants who have been into practice from decades. Therefore, we need to train them or help them learn these advanced skills.