Dr.V. Mohan, Chairman & Chief of Diabetology, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, Chennai, India
Health care was one of the big casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Treatment of chronic conditions like diabetes were severely affected due to the lockdown and fear of COVID-19. Diabetes requires regular checkups. As people were scared to visit clinics, routine care of diabetes was badly affected.
Moreover, both directly and indirectly, COVID-19 affected the diabetes control. Directly, because of the steroids used in its treatment and indirectly because people could not follow the diet and exercise schedule that they were used.
The Government of India quickly legalised telemedicine. In the case of diabetes a lot can be done through telemedicine as blood tests can be done in a laboratory based on which the diabetologist can advise patients regarding their treatment.
At our centre, we evolved a completely new model for treating our patients by offering homecare screening by which the patients got everything done at the comfort of their home. We published our results in journal, Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics. While many patients were willing to adopt telemedicine, the majority of them felt that they preferred face to face consultations as the healing touch and words of a doctor could only be partly replaced by virtual telemedicine consultations.
In 2021, it is likely that a hybrid situation will develop whereby face-to-face consultations will also go on, while some patients due to the sheer convenience, will still opt for virtual consultations. Especially for patients located in another town or city, telemedicine would continue to be used. We will have to wait and see whether COVID-19 has permanently disrupted the type of healthcare being offered to people with chronic conditions like diabetes.