The government should drive awareness regarding telemedicine and assure complete and robust security around a patient’s privacy and health-related information. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown norms have steered the extensive adoption of telemedicine in India. Against this setting, the thriving market can broaden as well as improve access to healthcare services and support the success of India’s nationwide digital health strategies and agendas, according to GlobalData.

Outlining India’s entry into telemedicine, the release declares that it began roughly two decades back with a pilot project by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the nation has thereafter seen the gradual entry of commercial healthcare applications in the last ten years. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian government released new guidelines for telemedicine practice in March 2020 to enable access to medical information just as COVID-19 hindered access to routine healthcare for incurable patients and patients from distant areas. Later, the Ministry of Health initiated eSanjeevani OPD — a patient-to-doctor teleconsultation service — in April 2020. It has conducted approximately one million telemedicine consultations.

Stating that the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing social distancing norms gave a new thrust to the hitherto stagnant telemedicine sector since Indian patients were determined for personal consultations for non-serious ailments, Sasmitha Sahu, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, pinpointed that in the absence of adequate guidelines in place, doctors and patients likewise were rather anxious about using this tool of healthcare consultations. However, with COVID-19 cases not subsiding yet, telemedicine is presently increasingly used. This method saves plenty of time for patients as well as doctors. The doctors can therefore attend and give attention to a bigger number of patients. In addition, patients from distant areas can get access to professionals.

The release notes that many telemedicine applications such as Practo, DocsApp, and mFine have evolved in recent times and were tremendously helped during the lockdown period to handle non-emergency as well as chronic medical conditions. These applications have seen manifold growth in teleconsultations since March 2020. The diagnostic services and e-pharmacies are further equivalents to teleconsultations.

But, telemedicine has its own drawbacks such as miscommunication of signs and symptoms by patients, misinterpretation of signs and symptoms by doctors, misdiagnosis, apart from non-medical issues such as network issues, application usage and familiarity concerns by technologically challenged people, and cyber threats.

In August 2020, the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) was announced in India to promote and establish universal health coverage with a budget of INR4.7bn ($63.6 million). Under this mission, the NDHM will possess health IDs, personal health records, Digi Doctor, and a health facility registry.

The new digital programs by India can make the best use of the impulse attained in telemedicine to stretch healthcare access into the deeper and difficult pockets of the country. While telemedicine cannot take place of conventional medical consultations and hospital visits for emergency circumstances and medical procedures, it will unquestionably decrease the pressure on the healthcare system in a large and populated country like India with disproportionate healthcare amenities. Therefore, the government is required to drive awareness about telemedicine and guarantee comprehensive and strong security around the privacy and health data of the patients. Telemedicine, which is only one element of the enormously distinct digital health system, will have a significant part to play in the progress and ultimate success of NDHM.


Open chat
💬 Need help?
Hello 👋
Can we help you?