Government Issues Telemedicine Practice Guidelines For Doctors

Coronavirus: Various studies have shown that telemedicine could possibly hold a big stake in the future of medicine.

Various studies have shown that telemedicine could possibly hold a big stake in the future of medicine.

The Medical Council of India has permitted the practice through telemedicine by its registered medical practitioners, giving a significant relief to doctors and patients alike in the current scenario of coronavirus. The government has prepared a set of guidelines in collaboration with NITI Ayog.

The practice of telemedicine, which involves remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through telecommunications such as video, phone and apps, is on a sharp rise.

Various studies have shown that telemedicine could possibly hold a big stake in the future of medicine.

Last month, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on behalf of the ministry of health and family welfare launched the COVID-19, National Teleconsultation Centre or CoNTeC - a facility that allows doctors across the country to connect in the Centre established in AIIMS, New Delhi for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. At the centre, expert doctors from various clinical domains will be available 24x7 on the number +91 91154 44155.

As per the guidelines framed, telemedicine is 'the delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies' and only a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) who is enrolled in the State Medical Register or the Indian Medical Register can offer telehealth services.

Many apps allow patients to consult doctors online. Among them, Practo, a health-tech startup, has been a game changer. 

Speaking to NDTV, Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Health Strategy Officer, Practo says, "Anyone with a smartphone and good internet connectivity can connect to registered doctor within a minute. This avoids a self-medication. Imagine during these times of social distancing, accumulating patients in a small waiting area and allowing exposure among themselves and sending them back home. This defeats  the very purpose. At these times, telemedicine will also protect out health workers and paramedics". 

During a crisis like this, when the world is having to deal with a pandemic and a lockdown, it does come as a sigh of relief for us to avoid self-medication and can seek immediate help. Perhaps, this crisis has fast-tracked the government's decision on the regulation of telemedicine services in the country. 

The highly infectious novel coronavirus has killed forty three people in the country in 24 hours, taking the total to 480, government data suggests. The virus has infected 14,378 people in the country since the first case was reported in Kerala in January.