Pandemic times have been difficult in numerous ways for every sector of living. It maybe, transportation, travel, administration, medicine, accounting, or any other industry, everybody has felt the effects of the Covid pandemic on their industry. Difficult times make you adapt to new things and the pandemic has brought a ‘new-normal’ for industries. The world has shifted from conference rooms to Zoom rooms. Internet technology and telecommunication helped the world to keep running. Medicine is one such sector that tried to evolve through technology.
Telemedicine is not a term that many people would have heard before this pandemic. It is the remote delivery of healthcare services, including but not limited to consultation, through telecommunication. It can be used to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in remote locations. Telemedicine assists in providing clinical services without the need of meeting in-person.
The services provided can be beneficial for both the patients and the doctors. The patients don’t need to go to the doctor’s, which would save their time and money. It is of great utility for the people who have a child or eldercare responsibilities. The patients can also be saved from other contagious patients. Telemedicine can also provide expert health care, sitting at home, breaking the barriers of the location of the expert. It is also helpful for people suffering from a long-term disease to get regular consultations. Telemedicine also has the utility of having patient records saved electronically. The patients can send their records to experts at remote locations.
Coronavirus is a highly contagious virus and is transmitted very easily. In this situation especially, telemedicine technology became functional extensively. It was very dangerous for patients suffering from the virus to go in-person to consult a doctor. It would put healthy people and the doctor especially at risk of getting transmitted. Hence, the patients suffering were quarantined at home and got doctor’s consultation through telemedicine applications. It was also used to provide information, advice, instructions to members of the family and health care providers.
During the lockdown, everything was closed, even the individual doctor’s clinics. All the doctors in the hospitals were on duty for covid patients. At this time, the people already suffering a disease or people with disease other than covid were distressed. They were devoid of medical advice and healthcare services. Telemedicine became practical for this section too. They were able to find experts and get professional advice.
During the second wave, the health infrastructure failed. People were frightened. There was unavailability of beds at hospitals, healthcare staff was working overtime and was burdened with pressure and workload. During this time, many patients were home quarantined and utilized telemedicine to come out of illness.
Doctors have benefits of telemedicine too. There is increased revenue, and increased efficiency. By giving better follow-through services, improved healthcare outcomes are achieved. There are fewer chances of missed and canceled appointments. During the pandemic, the doctors were able to provide their services without getting the risk of being transmitted and consulting patients using technology.
Various platforms have emerged to consolidate doctors in one place so that users can find doctors accordingly. Applications like Vmed, Practo, Doconline got a big boost during the pandemic. The platforms provide a common space for doctors and patients. Various hospitals also have specific telemedicine facilities now, like Apollo and Max hospitals.
Although the industry is emerging, it faces some challenges. The private players are growing in this sector but the industry lacks government regulations. It would take time for both the patients and the doctors to accept the technology. Data safety and privacy have to be assured to be accepted by patients. Language and connection barriers are another challenge. Technological hindrances would be an obstacle too. A major challenge to the industry is the lack of infrastructure in rural areas.
The industry has boomed in the pandemic with no doubt but the question is would it be able to sustain when things become normal? Well, the answer to this question will be given in a few years but the utility of the technology cannot be ignored for sure.
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