Transforming Indian healthcare via telemedicine

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Of late, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW), along with the NITI Ayog has come up with guidelines that will enable registered medical practitioners (RMPs) to provide healthcare services using telemedicine. As per the ministry guidelines, telemedicine is ‘the delivery of healthcare services, where distance is a critical factor, by all healthcare 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 healthcare providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.’ Express Healthcare reached out to industry people to gather their views on these guidelines.  Experts in this article explain how telemedicine will revolutionise the Indian healthcare system in the days to come, especially in keeping the with current health crisis due to the COVID-19 epidemic

By Akanki Sharma

Telemedicine sector is expected to reach up to $32 million by 2020 in India

Dr Gurushankar, Chairman, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre (MMHRC)

There are actually very few teleconsultation apps in the Indian market as of now. The ones available basically are of two types – one is offered by hospitals and the second type is the one offered by common platforms not affiliated to any particular hospital or clinic. ‘MMHRC Consult’ is unique because we are offering consultation from the best and the most experienced doctors in the field of medicine at people’s convenience. We offer consultation across several specialties with the help of our experienced doctors. We also offer one-on-one psychiatry counselling to people who are under mental stress and depression. Through this service, patients can make a personal connect with the doctor and can decide if they need to visit a hospital in this hour of crisis. This facility can be availed not only by people across India, but also by those in any part of the world.

Since this app was the need of the hour due to the sudden lockdown, we have just launched it. We realised that people still need access to medical care even if it means offering this to them in the confines of their homes. With its launch towards the end of March 2020, we have been registering 50 to 100 patients every day from areas as far as Surat and even countries like Malaysia and Muscat in the Middle East. We are also pushing this app in New Zealand and Africa. With COVID-19 being declared a pandemic and spreading far and wide, patients are not feeling comfortable going to hospitals, scared that they may contract some infection there. This is really a boon as someone could be concerned even about a slight pain thinking that it may be something more serious.

Patients have consulted us on diverse issues ranging from pulmonology to dental, pediatrics, neurology and even hemato-oncology and radiation oncology. Patients across India need to pay up only Rs 500 for consultation, and for our international patients, the fee is pegged at $10. By introducing this app, we are trying to provide medical access to as many people as possible. Our intention is to restrict any unnecessary visits to the hospital and the focus is not on revenue generation.

In rural areas, the biggest barrier is language. As our app was developed within a short span of time after the lockdown was announced, all the options are in English. While it is easy-to-use once it’s downloaded by simply clicking on the ‘book an appointment’ option and wait for their chance; for any rural audience, it would be a task to understand the language and then navigate through the app. Besides, payment options are easy through digital wallets like Google Pay and Paytm but these apps would probably be of a higher utility for tier-II and tier-III cities. With low literacy rates in rural areas, even these models of payments can be an inhibiting factor. The ideal model in rural areas could be having apps with local languages that people can easily understand. Maybe, people in those areas can opt to take help of NGOs who can provide them access to this app.

Telemedicine is a fast-emerging sector in India. As of FY 2016, it was valued at $15 million and is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent during FY 2016-20, reaching up to $32 million by 2020. So, the graph is definitely on an upward swing. Hospitals in rural India have good primary healthcare centres. We been offering telemedicine services for more than a decade now, through our nine outreach centres in rural Tamil Nadu. We’ve now designed a sustainable model and will soon be launching it in the African countries, where access to specialist doctors is still a dream.

However, in the western countries, penetration of technology is high, but in India, we are still struggling to get the rural areas connected with uninterrupted internet services. We still have a long way to go but we do need to catch up with telemedicine services especially in such unpredictable times. People will gradually have to start opting for these services and more and more hospitals and clinics will have to start providing these services. Telemedicine is very important for a country like India with such high population density, yet, a lot will depend on how soon we are able to extend uninterrupted internet services to even the remotest of corners in our country.

We have completed more than 3.5 million patient visits across 16 cities in India

Since its inception in 2013, Portea Medical has been delivering consistent and high-quality patient care in various parts of the country. We have completed more than 3.5 million patient visits across 16 cities in India. We manage about 150,000+ patient visits each month, offering them an extensive range of services for chronic diseases like respiratory ailments, heart diseases, elderly care, post-surgery care, diabetes management and other diseases or injuries which require long-term care. We have a strong presence in tier-I cities like Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, along with a well-established network across tier-II and tier-III cities like Vijayawada, Lucknow, Coimbatore, Jaipur, Indore, Cochin and Vizag.

Meena Ganesh, MD and CEO, Portea Medical

Currently, with the new regulations in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, we are providing teleconsultation with our doctors for addressing all concerns of our patients. We are also offering home physiotherapy services via video conferencing and a rise in demand is also being witnessed for these services.

We have a CARE plan for diabetic patients to ensure compliance. There is a health manager assigned to each patient, who contacts him/her as per a periodic and pre-defined schedule beginning on day zero, and fortnightly follow ups, etc. They discuss and ask questions related to the patient’s blood sugar and HPE13 levels, which provide them with the last three months’ trends of the patient. On basis of that, the patients are provided guidance and we ensure compliance. We are experiencing an increase in instances where our health managers call up patients for scheduled discussions and the patients put up coronavirus-based queries. There is a lot of awareness and confusion about coronavirus in India. People become worried even if they experience any kind of respiratory symptoms and start asking questions. We take care to provide them the right information and wherever needed, we direct them to our in-house experts. We spread awareness and provide coronavirus-related counselling to such patients and even their family members.

According to the government guidelines, we advise people on whether or when they should get tested for COVID-19. We also have a screening system in place where we find out about their travel history, whether they have high fever and adherence related to other guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).  We have received a large number of calls related to COVID-19 wherein people have queries about home quarantine. We have already provided home quarantine services to a lot of foreign-related individuals. For instance, we received a call from a top corporate honcho whose son had returned from a foreign country and he wanted to know how to go about the home quarantine process. We have now in place an effective home-quarantine system wherein we use disinfectants that sanitize a place and kill not only coronavirus, but other disease-causing microbes. If any person under home quarantine develops the system, then we provide them guidance as per the government guidelines. We also get a lot of queries for telemedicine from patients who have respiratory symptoms. Whenever we feel there is a likelihood of Covid-19 infection, we guide and direct them to the respective nodal centre or government hospital.

In a country like India, where population is huge, timely dissemination of verified information, education and avoiding fake news are a must during a public health emergency like the COVID-19. Understanding this, we recently launched Cobot-19 information and awareness chatbot, in partnership with the Government of Goa. Developed by Verloop, a customer support and engagement automation platform, Cobot-19 will disseminate information related to coronavirus through data gathered from trusted sources including the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Johns Hopkins. Our experts have reviewed all the information to ensure that only authentic, helpful and easy-to-understand information is shared with the general public. With Cobot-19, people will be able to resolve their queries around precautions to be taken to avoid getting infected, diet to boost immunity and health department contact information in case of emergency, among other things.

To use the chatbot, people must save the WhatsApp number +91 7948058218 in their contacts. Once they access the message, the bot will greet them with a welcome message and ask them to choose from available options depending on the information they need. Further, the accuracy of the response is paramount for us, and we are ensuring that the bot provides 100 per cent accurate answers. Whenever there is a question posed to it which it can’t provide an answer for, the bot declines to answer.

We are also speaking to a few other states. However, we would like to work with all the states, private companies, PSUs and the Indian government to maximise the reach of the bot. If any of them are interested in spreading the word not just across masses, but also within the company to their employees using WhatsApp bot, they should reach out to us. In fact, Portea Medical and Verloop in partnership with the High Commission of India in Canada have recently announced the launch of an automated chatbot – CANbot. It focusses on assisting Indian nationals, students and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) in Canada get answers to their questions regarding COVID-19, public safety measures taken in India and Canada, and restrictions on international travel.

Video consultation is a boon for people in rural areas

Telemedicine is proving to be a game-changer in the rural areas and amongst the underserved areas by making it easier for people to access a doctor. Given the shortage of super-specialist doctors in India, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas, telemedicine has been emerging as a vital tool to bridge this void. With increased internet penetration and speed improving significantly over the past five years, more and more health tech startups have ventured into this domain and are devising innovative delivery models to improve healthcare availability to millions of people deprived of adequate primary and secondary healthcare facilities. IT-enabled healthcare kiosks that use intelligent technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are starting to make their presence felt in under-served areas. For people in the rural areas, who had to travel long distances to be able to access a doctor, a video consultation facility available close to home is a boon. It also acts as a triage of sorts by sifting outpatients who can be treated through virtual consultation from those who need physical attention. The latter are then referred to secondary care hospitals. This also serves to reduce the overcrowding of district hospitals.

Shankar Narang, COO, Paras Healthcare

While hitherto, the role of telemedicine had largely been limited to use in under-served areas, the COVID-19 crisis has changed this and brought telemedicine to the mainstream. For a bulk of people needing medical consultation, telemedicine has become the first line of choice at this moment as people are asked to stay home and hospitals suspend non-emergency Out Patient Departments (OPDs).

With regard to COVID-19 epidemic, telemedicine is playing an active role. A lot of hospitals have opened teleconsultation services to allow people access to doctors from the safety of their homes. At Paras Healthcare, we have started tele and video consultations across the hospitals, and there is a rising demand for these.

Telemedicine is helping in two ways. Firstly, it is helping by making medical care available to many people with varying health conditions without them going to clinics and hospitals, mitigating the risk of infection. Secondly, it is helping suspected COVID-19 patients seek medical advice and help in self-quarantine.

The people in rural areas are willing to opt for alternative ways of accessing healthcare and telemedicine can be an effective tool, given they are educated of the advantages. The ideal model for rural areas is to establish telemedicine centres or IT-enabled kiosks and train a set of local people in using these centres. Furthermore, such centres must also be backed up by diagnostic facilities and medical dispensaries because these areas also lack these facilities.

Further, the standardised way to manage the patient load is to plug in appointments and set aside dedicated time for every doctor to offer consultation to patients seeking virtual medical help.

Telemedicine can be a revolutionary tool that has the power to minimise these critical imbalances through technology 

Telemedicine is the need of the hour as it allows a patient to consult a respective medical-council verified doctor 24*7 from anywhere in the country. If one has a smartphone, he/she can consult a doctor, irrespective of his/her location. Being specific to COVID-19, teleconsultation can be used effectively as a screening mechanism, whereby only serious cases are advised to go for tests and physical examination, as required.

Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Strategy Officer, Practo

At Practo, we built our first iteration of telemedicine service a couple of years ago. We support three modes of communication on our platform: real-time text-based chat which allows patients and doctors to talk asynchronously, where patients can share documents and photos with the doctor real-time. For cases that require more attention, especially where visual and verbal cues are important, we also support audio and video chat. Further, built-in features like image sharing, voice calling and video call (only on the app) ensure that doctors get all the required information for diagnosis and refer for a physical visit to a clinic if required. The response time to get in touch with doctors is also as low as one to 60 seconds in some specialities.

With rural internet users increasing by 58 per cent annually, India’s digital connectivity is expected to reach 80 per cent access in 2034. As smartphone and internet penetration is growing, rural India is getting tech-savvy with every passing day and people are adopting new technologies that can improve their lifestyle. Reports indicate that only about 27 per cent of the country has access to crucial healthcare services. Given the lack of access to quality healthcare, especially in rural India, telemedicine can be a revolutionary tool that has the power to minimise these critical imbalances through technology. Anyone with a smartphone will have a 24*7 access to verified doctors, no matter which part of the country they are in. This trend can drive the adoption of telemedicine and other digital technologies, thereby increasing access to healthcare for people in rural areas.

Last month onwards, queries regarding fever, cough, cold, sore throat and body ache have increased by 200 per cent on our teleconsultation platform. Most of the queries are from people belonging to the age group of 20-30 years. Further, close to 50 per cent of all teleconsultations are being conducted from tier-II and tier- III cities. Metro cities from where most of the queries are coming include Bengaluru, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai; while the non-metro cities include Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar and Indore.

Every advice that is offered through Onco is personalised to the patient’s condition 

The ‘Call Onco’ service helps patients schedule calls with oncologists to get their questions answered, with queries ranging from their current treatment status, diagnosis and preventive measures to not get affected with COVID-19. The teleconsultation is 20-minute long and can be scheduled within 24 hours. Moreover, with the help of ‘Onco Tumour Board’, patients and their caregivers can get detailed treatment advice in the form of an online report from a multi-disciplinary panel of oncologists.

Rashie Jain, Co-founder and CEO, Onco.com

‘Call Onco’ was launched recently in anticipation of concerns we would receive on managing cancer treatment during the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown. Since the day we have begun the service, we have been receiving a higher number of calls from patients and caregivers requesting to connect with oncologists. From the 150+ calls, we receive in a day, around 100 requests are for the ‘Onco Tumour Board’ service.

Most of the queries we receive are from patients facing a dilemma in continuing with their treatment as per plan, or whether they can halt the treatment for a short duration, and the impact of such decisions. Same queries come from those cancer patients who are about to start treatment as well because cancer patients are more vulnerable to catching an infection given their weakened immunity due to several treatment procedures. We also receive questions on the chances of infection, travel restrictions that they must follow and other precautions they must take during this virus outbreak. Furthermore, we also receive calls from caregivers who would like to connect with doctors and discuss the treatment plan of the patients they are taking care of.  We serve more than 10,000 patients every month with the highest number of cases in lung cancer, breast cancer and oral cancer. Forty per cent of our patients are from metros and 60 per cent of patients are from tier-II cities.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, patients come to us with a flood of questions on managing treatment during this lockdown period. We strongly urge patients and their families to keep informed from experts on the precautions to be taken during these times and adhere to following guidelines in a strict manner. We are also interviewing our oncologists and creating videos that cancer patients can view from the comfort of their home and get necessary guidance. Additionally, our website and social media channels are being updated with information relevant to the current situation and other cancer-related updates.

We have an internal team of oncologists who work full time with us that ensures that all protocols and processes that we develop are as per international treatment guidelines on cancer. We have also launched a platform (OCPAPTM) that allows us to offer an automated opinion to all cancer patients who come to our portal free of cost.

Every advice that is offered through Onco is personalised to the patient’s condition. We collect necessary medical reports of all our patients to create digital clinical summaries and then help them get an online opinion, teleconsultation or personalised recommendations from the right hospitals/doctors.

At Onco.com, we work closely with our network of 1,500 oncologists and 500+ hospital and health centre partners to ensure continuity of care towards cancer patients, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With ‘Call Onco,’ a telephonic call or video conference with an oncologist costs Rs 1,000. In addition, every cancer patient at Onco.com is assigned a designated care manager who engages with them throughout their treatment journey.

For patients who are looking for detailed treatment advice, the premium online opinion service ‘Onco Tumour Board,’ provides an online report from a multi-disciplinary panel of senior oncologists. Every patient who opts for the tumour board service, which is priced at Rs 5,000, gets a complimentary ‘Call Onco’ service as well and they can schedule the call before or after their report is shared.

Telemedicine helps in preventing overcrowding of hospitals and reduces the risk of infection

India has one doctor for every 1,700 people which is below the World Health Organization (WHO’s) recommendation. However, with more than 400 million smartphone users and easy access to the internet, mobile-enabled delivery of healthcare services is one of the easiest ways to reach a large number of patients and give them access to doctors. Above that, amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, hospitals are facing a surge in outpatient cases with flu-like symptoms. Telemedicine helps in preventing overcrowding of hospitals, reduces the risk of infection, and helps hospitals safeguard doctors and staff who are among the most at risk of contracting the virus.

Prasad Kompalli, Co-founder and CEO, mfine

mfine has launched a preliminary assessment for Coronavirus and since then more than 6,000 users have been assessed and the numbers are increasing.  The company’s Coronavirus assessment is built specifically to triage and diagnose the COVID-19 symptoms at the earliest. It lets doctors consult with patients over a digital voice or video link rather than in person, enabling them to attend to more patients without being exposed to the virus themselves.

During the consultation, the system collects basic information from the patients and triages severe cases through symptom mapping. The doctor interacts with the patient over audio and video, gives the prescription and informs about warning signs like breathlessness, chest discomfort and dizziness. The doctors recommend a hospital visit if a patient is seen having any of the warning signs. For instance, if there is a patient with breathlessness, he is recommended to visit a hospital. The system also follows up with the patient after two days of the initial consultation to check on how he/she is recovering.

Further, there is a lot more organic traction in three- to five-tier cities as healthcare access is very limited there. However, mobile internet access is widespread and people look for teleconsultation solutions and discover platforms like ourselves. We are planning to launch more awareness campaigns and build local service (diagnostics, e-pharmacy) partners to become a platform of choice for people in rural areas.

Telemedicine has to be combined with artificial intelligence (AI) platform that can behave like an intelligent and knowledgeable assistant, then doctors’ productivity can improve dramatically. At mfine, we have built it. Triage, history taking, diagnosis and treatment — all are coded into a learning system that can interact with the patient and take away 60-65 per cent of the doctors’ work. The system then produces a case sheet that’s comprehensive and accurate, including all the documentation. This way, doctors save a lot of time and can focus on care, communication and counselling.

Telemedicine will help reduce the panic, multiplication of fake news, and bring satisfaction among people

The immediate impact of implementing telemedicine can only be measured by the ease it offers to urban smartphone-using tech-savvy professionals in India. So far, due to the lack of proper regulation, the private sector was wary to invest in telemedicine due to the missing guidelines that hindered growth and innovation to play its role and help the larger audience. Further, with the outcome of the e-pharmacy issue in recent times, private investors have been more cautious and second-guessed telemedicine business models in India. The regulations and government ruling will change this entirely. Now, private entrepreneurs will find it as an open market to venture in and invest.

Ayush Mishra, Founder and CEO, Tattvan

Owing to the new government regulations on telemedicine, investments will ramp up and we are going to see models that are indigenous to the Indian landscape. It will drastically change the healthcare segment in terms of affordability, reach, quality and access across the country, drastically. This regulation is going to take telemedicine from government spent roughly Rs 48 crores annually to a legitimate multi-billion dollar industry in the next three to five years.

Post these regulations, a business model like ours will be ideal for implementing telemedicine in rural areas. Many people in tier II and tier III cities do not use mobile applications to see a doctor as smartphone usage for such facilities is still low. They need a facilitator and a brick and mortar set-up to understand and accept the treatment.

Imagine a telehealth centre in a small Indian town or village that can connect patients to specialist doctors in the nearest big towns and can conduct diagnostics on site. This is going to create an ecosystem of primary care where real-time hospitalisations can be reduced by more than 30 per cent. Tattvan centres have witnessed overwhelming results and there are case studies where we have added tangible impact on patient cases through our telemedicine systems. We are creating a network of telemedicine clinics in small Indian towns and connecting them to the nearest metro city’s world-class super speciality hospitals. Our clinics offer access to the best medical opinion and diagnostics in the country to patients in small towns without them travelling to big cities.

In the current scenario where the world is dealing with COVID-19 epidemic, telemedicine will help reduce the panic, multiplication of fake news, and bring satisfaction as people can speak to a physician from their home and get educated on symptoms and anything they need to take care of in specific, because of their other ‘ongoing’ conditions like diabetes, asthma, etc. It will help patients to continue regular OPDs for ailments other than Coronavirus. An important point to notice is that India has a million times more cases of diabetes, hypertension and chronic headache, etc. as compared to Coronavirus as of now.

We have launched an initiative called ‘Swastha Samarth’ and have pledged to support small-town doctors through our telemedicine application. We have pledged to offer our platform to doctors in small towns for free to offer their medical practice to their patients. We are also offering our call centre and tech support to doctors for free in these times. Any doctor can approach us and our team will onboard them for free for the next three months.

Patients will be able to pay for their OPD fees online on our platform and we will pass it completely to the doctor. Also, as a part of the same initiative, we are also offering our employees, our partner company employees and their family members’ free doctor consultations till the national lockdown. We will keep on exploring more and more ways where we can support India’s fight in whichever way we can.

Anything that can be done virtually should be done virtually and anything that requires a physical touch should be attended to at home

Headquartered in Hyderabad, Telangana, CallHealth is in its fourth year with the intent of building and leveraging the healthcare platform which is built using the latest in the technology stack. The platform addresses individual healthcare needs, as well as those of institutions like large corporates and insurance companies.

Ratnesh Sharma – PE & CHRO (Partner Ecosystem and Chief of Human Resources Operations), CallHealth

The company has partnered with several IT companies and schools in the city to screen and provide on-ground support for early diagnosis, maintaining Electronic Health Records (EHRs) for individuals displaying symptoms related to COVID-19, while also spreading awareness pertaining to all infectious diseases.

We further aim to offer a seamless connect (virtual or physical platforms) of services to customers from anywhere at any time across India. The facility is particularly helpful for middle-aged and elderly patients and those with chronic conditions, from any part of the globe.

Currently, there is a significant surge in calls on queries around COVID-19 symptoms and about confusions sand misconceptions regarding the use of masks, sanitisers, social distancing and the viral information that is being exchanged, which is answered on such calls. Our manning is scaled up in a matter for a few hours basis the number/volume of calls. Our current ecosystem of onboarded partners/doctors is enough to handle over 2000 e-consultations per day. Most of the calls we receive are from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and parts of Delhi, where we serve. However, we also receive several calls from other parts of the country, especially for free doctor consultation on COVID-19 symptoms. We have a dedicated team of doctors and contact centre staff who attend to these calls and chats. General physicians play a crucial role in allaying fears of the general public on basic queries and ally fear of contracting the disease, reinforcing normalcy, guidelines to help avoid contracting the said infection, and the basic dos and don’ts that need to be followed.

Our @home services viz medicine delivery and diagnostics services are also witnessing higher demand as people are preferring not to step out of home or visit hospitals/diagnostic centres. However, we are temporarily facing glitches due to the movement of service delivery staff, including doctors who partake in providing selfless services. We have applied for the permits with the local authorities and will then be able to serve the healthcare needs of people seamlessly in this hour of need.

CallHealth’s principles of operation have always been: anything that can be done virtually should be done virtually and anything that requires a physical touch should be attended to at home. In line with that, we have created a dedicated helpline called ‘CallHealth Line’for COVID-19. Anyone from anywhere in the world can call this helpline @ 91 33 55 77 99 to avail a free doctor consultation.

In addition, the medical records help identify prone population-based on patients’ medical histories, comorbidities and ask for advanced tests based on their clinical presentation to achieve a more holistic approach for clinically accurate outcomes.

The absence of intermediaries helps in the direct delivery of services available to the customer. The focus is on economies of scale and utilising the spare capacity available with service providers such as hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic labs and imaging labs has resulted in increased volumes. This mutually benefits the customer and the service providers who are eager to serve.

The company also manages the medical records of its customers using blockchain technology, so that it can process millions of transactions per day and can integrate with a billion smartphone users in India. Blockchain technology provides transparency of each healthcare data source and can derive meaningful insights from the terabytes of data generated across millions of transactions. It empowers clinicians with information for accurate diagnosis, thus enabling timely, preventive actions and improved clinical outcomes.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques ensure the authenticity of the service provider and our continuously learning clinical decision support system reduces the cognitive bias of providers during the consultation. Our EHRs are immutable using blockchain technology ensuring all accesses and changes to health records are accounted for.

Many patients who were hesitant to come to the hospital have now started approaching us

Teleconsultation can help to condense the overall cost of the healthcare sector in India, and patients treated offline as well as online can get advantage from its adoption. It aids in enabling the clinical obstacles from distance, especially for distant rural patients.

Nitiz Murdia, Lab Director, INDIRA IVF Group

In a scenario when patients are unable to visit a hospital and present themselves physically, teleconsultation can help them to connect with their doctors via mobile devices to improve communication, speedy advice and immediate care. The patient and physician can listen to each other, and the physician can ask for patient’s test results and records over WhatsApp in real time to check further. Patients can avail the benefit of consulting with a board-certified expert to determine the cause of their infertility and the best treatment plan, all without travel.

The company started its telemedicine process in the last week of March 2020 and we are active in all states. About 700+ patients have already been benefitted till date. Currently, we are providing teleconsultation to almost 200+ patients in a day and this number is increasing day by day.

Pregnant women do online counselling with their obstetrician or gynaecologist and can discuss their scan reports and medical conditions at their convenience. They can also discuss about their medicines — whether those need to change, or talk about their side effects.

Many patients who were hesitant to come to the hospital have now started approaching us and taken the guidance to their fertility issues though our teleconsultation services. This way, we can reach as many people as we can and solve their infertility problems quickly.

Telemedicine offers improved access to care, cost-effectiveness, healthcare quality and oncreased patient demand

Telemedicine is the exchange of medical information from one location to another using electronic communication. It has multiple applications and can be used for different services, including wireless tools, email, two-way video, smartphones and other methods of telecommunications technology. There are four major benefits of telemedicine:

Dr Pramod Tripathi, Founder, Freedom From Diabetes

(a) Improved access to care – In addition to improving access for patients, it allows doctors and healthcare to reach at places beyond their own network.
(b) Improved cost effectiveness – Telemedicine is able to reduce healthcare costs because of efficiency, improved management of chronic diseases, reductions in travel time and shortened hospital stays, among others.
(c) Improved healthcare quality – It has been seen that telemedicine services are as good as the services given during in-person consultations. In some instances, it can outperform traditional services. There is better patient outcome and satisfaction.
(d) Increased patient demand – Telemedicine is popular in consumers as it is less stressful and there is no travel time.

Established in 2013 with an aim of reaching maximum number of diabetics throughout the world, Freedom From Diabetes (FFD) started teleconsultations in 2017. On an average, we consult 50 people in a day worldwide. People from any part of the world can enrol in our Intensive Reversal programme and consult our doctors.

With the world being digital now, it is easy and speedy to get our telemedicine services. The cost for a consultation ranges from Rs 600 to Rs 1,100 depending on the seniority of the consultant chosen. So

FFD doesn’t only give a stand-alone teleconsultation, but offers a complete one-year online programme for diabetics. It suits them the most because it integrates diet, exercise, inner transformation (stress release and positivity building) and medical protocols together under one roof. These have been evolved and perfected for over seven years.

FFD’s team is tuned to the possible constraints across a variety of diabetics in different age groups. Daily reporting to a dedicated doctor and monthly or once-in-three-months teleconsultation throughout the year with regular diet/exercise/stress expert advice and a proven phase-wise implementation plan keeps them calm and secured. It gives results in a predictable manner. More than 45 per cent diabetics become free of medicines and 60 per cent become free of insulin in three months itself. Over the years, this percentage has been increasing now.

akanki.sharma@expressindia.com

Ayush MishraCallHealthDr Alexander KuruvillaDr GurushankarmfineMMHRCOnco.comParas HealthcarePractoPrasad KompalliRashi JainRatnesh SharmaShankar NarangTattvantelemedicinevideo consultation
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