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Digital Health: The Future: Telemedicine-Where do We Stand Today video conference organised

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During discussions experts thanked the Govt for Guidelines on Telemedicine making it legal for the doctors in India while demanding the Regulatory Framework for Telemedicine for international patients as well

PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Health Committee organised an interactive video conference of series on ‘Digital Health: The Future: Telemedicine-Where do We Stand Today’ on May 29, 2020.

During the discussions with experts from hospitals, MCI, Industry, academia and the radiology and health insurance experts thanked the Govt for Guidelines on Telemedicine making it legal for the doctors in India while demanding the Regulatory Framework for Telemedicine for international patients as well. They also opined that with AI under supervision of the clinicians, telemedicine can extend health support to the rural patients and we could see 20-25 per cent of healthcare being provided through telemedicine.

The panellists of the webinar were Dr N Subramanian, Chairman, Health Committee, PHDCCI & Director, Medical Services, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Aditya Berlia, Co-Founder & Pro Chancellor, Apeejay Satya University, Dr Hans Raj Baweja, Chairman, Ethics Committee, Medical Council of India, Dr Harsh Mahajan, Founder & Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging, Dr Puneet Girdhar, Sr Director & Spine Surgeon, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, SK Mehra, Managing Director & CEO, Health Insurance TPA of India.

Dr Subramanian welcomed all the panellist and said that telemedicine plays a very important role in our lives to reach out to everyone and it is expanding and getting better every year. The risk of NCDs are so high for the treating doctors that the awareness and prevention is the only way to avoid complications where telemedicine and AI play a major role to make the data available and stratifying the risks. It can also manage the algorithms in treating patients with high risk demographics where the Government has the access to real time data and the changing patterns of the disease. Dr Subramanian advised young practitioners who are keen to adopt the telemedicine technology that it is very important to have certain amount of discipline and they should establish a relationship and trust with the patients especially for incase of telemedicine.

Dr Mahajan while briefing about the tele-radiology said that the computing and internet availability improves exponentially the effectiveness of telemedicine as also reduces the cost drastically of healthcare delivery. He said we will be able to serve the underprivileged sections of the society and remote areas through telemedicine. He further said that with the advent of Corona, telemedicine has become the necessity where technology helped us a lot to fight this crisis. He also told that telemedicine and AI make work easier and it will become indispensable in coming years but it has to be under supervision of a clinician. Answering to one of the questions from audience, Dr Mahajan said that telemedicine is here to grow exponentially and serve the multiple purpose like diagnosis, training, education and serve the agenda of preventive measurement. He further added that apart from tele-radiology, telemedicine can be used in digital pathology, dermatology, ophthalmology and many other segments.

Berlia said that the doctor to patient ratio in urban area is around 1:10,000 and in rural area it is worst at 1:30,00,00 and this is a worldwide scenario. COVID-19 has changed the patient and doctor psychology at large and 20-25 per cent medical system will move to telemedicine in coming years. He also said that COVID-19 has given a massive boost to telemedicine and there is an urgent intervention needed from the regulatory part as there is a problem with the data collection part. He further added that in the next one year there will be a tremendous use of telemedicine for quick follow-up consultations, consultations by patients who panic and second opinion consultations for referral patients and if we are able to do this then it is a phenomenal achievement.

Dr Baweja said that there were lot of legal limitations we faced before COVID era as telemedicine is existing and practiced in other countries but never recognised in India. It’s only due to this Corona pandemic on March 25, 2020 the telemedicine guidelines were finalised which says that every doctor in India can go on telemedicine platform in India. Explaining the key points of telemedicine guidelines, like mandatory patient consent, mandatory patient identity as it is difficult to identify the patient in audio consultations, taking of history and entering all the details in the prescription, Dr Baweja said that it is mandatory for doctors also to introduce themselves at the time of consultation and only generic medicines should be prescribed.

Dr Girdhar said that in the past everyone knew about telemedicine but due to legal limitations, patient psychology and other complications very few were using it and now with Coronavirus hitting even hospitals have come up with their individual telemedicine apps.

Mehra said that there’s huge demand of telemedicine among doctors in coming years. He said this is the right time to start and set some protocols and regulations, which will also help in the expansion of the telemedicine. He said this concept will certainly help the senior citizens, where they require general consultation or normal follow up for the medicine. Mehra also explained about the existing insurance policies and the important aspects of telemedicine consultation coverage in the insurance.

While moderating the session Dr Deep Goel, Senior Director, Dr BL Kapur Memorial Hospital said that mother earth is under repair and social distancing will be the new normal in coming times.

Vivek Seigell, Principal Director Health, PHD Chamber who moderated the session with Dr Goel said that the recommendations and details of the discussions held will be sent to NITI Aayog as policy inputs on various aspects of telemedicine especially for the consulting for international patients.

Dr Subramanian gave the Vote of Thanks and the webinar was attended by more than 100 delegates.

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