The medical industry is largely dependent and typically functions on physical interaction – with patients visiting a doctor, the doctor checking the pulse, temperature, feeling for lumps, peering into mouth for obvious signs of infections etc. However, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the year 2020, these practices have taken a backseat or have been largely suspended.
Ziqitza Healthcare, a leading healthcare organization states that with the emergence of new variants, the coronavirus pandemic is becoming unpredictable as the days pass, and healthcare systems across the world, including that of India, are strained during the lockdowns and the months that followed, a number of hospitals were sealed due to workers succumbing to the coronavirus or testing positive.
In a scenario like this, Ziqitza explains that telemedicine is being touted as a more practical and feasible solution. Ziqitza HealthCare Ltd states that the adoption of telemedicine technology makes healthcare more accessible and presents itself as a more efficient and convenient option for the patients. It is not that telemedicine is a new concept in India, back in the year 2015, the central government had launched SEHAT (Social Endeavour for Health and Telemedicine). The initiative connected 60,000 health structures across the country in order to provide health services with no geographical foundations.
Ziqitza Rajasthan, explains in the current scenario, when the country is on a recovery path post the COVID-19 pandemic, and majority of this recovery is led by digital technologies, the healthcare industry is also witnessing increased adoption of digital technologies. An online consultation picked up trend amidst the pandemic and still continues to be in practice. Telemedicine goes beyond infrastructural and geographical boundaries and offers accessibility to the patients. It has the power to fill the gaps exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ziqitza Limited explains that Telemedicine doesn’t mean that people stop going to the doctors for physical check-up, it is one of the smarter solutions available just like the video conferencing solutions. The three A’s of healthcare – awareness, accessibility and affordability are easily addressed by telemedicine or by having a doctor available on call.
ZHL Rajasthan says that interestingly, virtual healthcare increases operational efficiencies of the doctors, improves their feedback and support mechanisms, and reduces load on hospitals. Virtual healthcare eases the process of primary care, getting second opinion of a medical practitioner, and also aids the doctors in screening patients and determining the need for physical check-ins.
In a vast country like India, providing access to in-person healthcare is particularly challenging due to geographical and limited resources limitations. Ziqitza Limited Rajasthan, points out the facts that in India, 60 percent hospitals, 80 percent doctors and 75 percent dispensaries are operational in urban areas – which is just the 28 percent of the population. This highlights the huge accessibility challenge that the healthcare ecosystem in India faces, and telemedicine, or virtual healthcare offers a practical solution.
Ziqitza HealthCare Limited stresses that with the technological advances made in virtual healthcare and rapid advances registered in ICT, India has the capacity and potential to completely overhaul and change the healthcare delivery ecosystem within the country. However, in India, one of the primary challenges is not adoption of technology, but the mindset of the people. Teleconsultation within the nation is looked down upon and physical consultations are favored. This myth needs to be dispelled and is most important to make virtual consultations a success.
Any change in status quo will always be met with inhibitions and adoption challenges. Virtual healthcare, or more popularly known as telemedicine, have its fair share of challenges, such as the inability of the patients to understand the challenge of time and keep pestering doctors post consultation for doubt clearance. This pestering doesn’t occur during physical consultations. While technology grants accessibility, its usage must be set by limitations.
Covid-19 has most certainly brought in newer ways of working and it is upto us how we adapt to it and adopt it and attain normalcy. While physical consultations have always been the norm, virtual consultations offer a smarter way to connect with healthcare professionals saving time and improving operational efficiency. There are pros and cons of both, however finding a balance between the both and leveraging the advantages of the both is the way ahead.