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Telemedicine in India – An Enabler of Healthcare Access and Affordability: Arvinder Singh Kang

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Chandigarh, July 16, 2021 (Yes Punjab News)
Telemedicine in India-An Enabler of Healthcare Access and Affordability- Arvinder Singh Kang Director, Student Welfare Chandigarh University As a part of the Faculty Development Programme (FDP) a talk on “Telemedicine in India-An Enabler of Healthcare Access and Affordability” was organised by Chandigarh University for the benefit of its faculty.

Dr Rakesh Gupta, President and Director of Public Health, Strategic Institute for Public Health Education and Research (SIPHER) and Former-Director Health Services, Govt. of Punjab, Chandigarh was the keynote speaker.

Mr Dantapuram Shashidhar from Dept. of Optometry, Chandigarh University introduced the Keynote speaker and the Guest of Honour Prof. Arvinder Singh Kang Director, Student Welfare Chandigarh University.

Mr Kang said that there are a number of benefits of telemedicine. It increases timely access to appropriate interventions including faster access and access to services that may not otherwise be available. In India, providing In-person healthcare is challenging, particularly given the large geographical distances and limited resources.

Dr Raj Kumar Head of Dept. of Optometry was of the opinion that one of the major advantages of telemedicine can be for saving of cost and effort especially for rural patients, as they need not travel long distances for obtaining consultation and treatment.

In this type of scenario, telemedicine can provide an optimal solution for not just providing timely and faster access. It would also reduce financial costs associated with travel. It also reduces the inconvenience/impact to family and caregivers and social factors.

Presenting his Keynote address, Dr Rakesh Gupta explained that Telemedicine is ‘The delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.’

And Telehealth is actually ‘The delivery and facilitation of health and health-related services including medical care, provider and patient education, health information services, and self-care via telecommunications and digital communication technologies.’

He told about the benefits to patients in the form of Access to specialized health care services to under-served rural, semi-urban and remote areas; Access to the expertise of Medical Specialists to a larger population without physical referral and Reduced visits to speciality hospitals for long term follow-up care for the aged and terminally ill patients. He also explained about the benefits to Physicians in the form of

Improved diagnosis and better treatment management; Access to computerized, comprehensive data (text, voice, images etc.) of patients – offline as well as real-time; Quick and timely follow-up of patients discharged after palliative care and Continuing education or training through video conferencing periodically.

He shared his personal experience in Telemedicine and Teleconsultations as he coordinated for providing counselling and succour to the mild home isolated cases of COVID 19 through a Teleconsultation Helpline along with Punjab Red Cross and SIPHER.

Teleconsultation was provided to more than 1500 patients in the form of WhatsApp message/SMS or telecall followed by a standard prescription and guidance by medical experts which was found to be an appropriate methodology to help a majority of patients in home isolation and also reducing the workload of frontline medical experts managing 10-15% of Moderate or severe COVID cases.

He concluded by explaining the way forward in the form of Hand-holding support to Hospital administration for stabilization of telemedicine services, Integration of Telemedicine activities with Health Management Information System HMIS for regular reporting (preferably web-based) and Introducing Telemedicine (concept, technical aspects and implementation arrangements) as part of medical education & continuing medical education.

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