Telemedicine: A Roadmap To Improving Health Sector?

In the year 2000, the Government of India recognized the use of telemedicine as a healthcare delivery tool. Following which the Government has been taking steps on developing telemedicine infrastructures throughout the country. According to a Mckinsey report titled “Digital India: Technology to transform a connected nation”, telemedicine can save $4-5 billion every year and also substitute around half of the outpatient consultations in India.

The concept of telemedicine helps patients to interact with medical experts anywhere in the country to discuss their health problems.

With an aim to determine doctors’ perception of telemedicine, we conducted an in-app survey on WhiteCoats app.

A total of 109 doctors responded to our survey from varying specialties which includes ENT (27.52%), ophthalmologist (13.76%), physiotherapist (9.17%), diabetologist (8.26%), pediatrician (5.50%), pulmonologist (5.50%), orthopedist (4.59%), GP (4.59%), cardiologist (3.67%), dentist (3.67%), gynaecologist (3.67%), and others (10.09%).

55.05% of doctors stated that they would want to try using telemedicine. While 24.77% stated they would never use telemedicine.

About 15.60% of physicians used telemedicine and 4.59% of physicians never heard or knew about the telemedicine concept.

71.56% of doctors think that telemedicine could be beneficial to physicians and 69.72% of doctors think that it could be advantageous for improving healthcare outcomes in the patient community.

Around 26.61% of doctors think that either patient acceptance, compliance, security concerns, and other factors could affect the use of telemedicine, of which security concerns (29.36%) was the highest affecting factor.

Reasons like medico-legal aspects, language barriers, inappropriate use, and lack of physical examination were mentioned additionally for factors that could affect the use of telemedicine.

41.28% of physicians think that either providing long-distance care, safety and effectiveness, patient-centric care, and less time consumption could be the reasons that make the concept of telemedicine beneficial.

Telemedicine has its own benefits like long-distance care, connecting physicians to rural patients or improving patient interaction with experts.

However, as a few of our doctors mentioned, it is also important to look into issues like medico-legal aspects, lack of physical examination and other barriers before considering its use.

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