E- Consultation and Telemedicine in India in the midst of COVID-19
Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, India’s leading chain of maternity, childcare and fertility care group of hospitals headquartered in Bengaluru, launched its teleconsultation service with doctors in response to the growing public health concerns caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus
India is one of the largest and fastest-growing markets for digital consumers, with 560 million internet subscribers in 2018, second only to China. Indians have 1.2 billion mobile phone subscriptions and downloaded more than 12 billion apps in 2018. India is digitising faster than any other country and there is plenty of room to grow: just over 40 percent of the populace has an internet subscription. These statistics are interesting to note for a developing country like India.
At a time, when social distancing is among the major measures used to fight COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth is stepping-up as a key technology for safe and efficient communications. The World Health Organization mentioned telemedicine among essential services in “strengthening the Health Systems Response to COVID-19” policy. For us at Cloudnine, we have always been looking at an ecosystem which comes together for the customer. In order to assure steady and quick medical services available to its customers, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, India’s leading chain of maternity, childcare and fertility care group of hospitals headquartered in Bengaluru, launched its teleconsultation service with doctors in response to the growing public health concerns caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This first of its kind service in the maternal and child healthcare which was a part of the emergency response measures for new coronavirus infectious disease based on the guidelines released by Medical Council of India in partnership with NITI Aayog. The service has been made available across all our 14 hospitals and 3 clinics in India thereby allowing all the customers to consult doctors from their homes via video thereby avoiding all the non- essential travel to the hospital. Doctors will advise and follow up with patients according to their conditions and symptoms. Customers may use this service for follow up consultation on their ongoing treatment as well. This value-added health service shall be available on mobile phones through “Its our Baby” app which has currently 100k users. This will include doctor consultations, electronic prescriptions and electronic medical certificates.
At Cloudnine, providing digital solutions has always been core to our business that, unlike a lot of others, we really didn’t look at it (digital) as being a separate entity but instead we brought that on completely in-house. The introduction of extensive telehealth capability adds to our comprehensive functionality for practitioners and patients. For customers, the technology partnership helps to connect their doctor at their fingertips — saving on travel and waiting time. It also provides incredible convenience for people who are working to see a practitioner without needing to leave home to do so. We have never been shy of looking at new-age companies, new-age startups and new-age ideas to get incorporated which helps us to serve customers better. We encourage people to innovate in technology, bring in cutting edge stuff, something new to the industry.
In my view, telehealth can directly influence flattening the curve of demand on health systems worldwide, slowing transmission and spreading incidence over a longer time period. Almost all telehealth providers have already faced a tsunami of demand, which may be better described as a global real-time piloting and go live. Therefore, if telemedicine is replaced by 30 to 40 percent of in-person outpatient consultations, India could save up to $10 billion and improve care for the poor and those living in remote areas. Consolidating individual patients ‘lifelong medical history into an electronic health record (EHR) can help healthcare providers make more accurate diagnoses and lower the risk of medical errors. Today’s healthcare system is facing many challenges globally, including growing aging populations, a rise in chronic conditions and co-morbidities, and increasing constraints on the healthcare workforce. As the industry works towards achieving the quadruple aim to help address these the industry must embrace the shift to digitisation. Technology is something that touches every customer’s life especially in maternity and when it comes to healthcare it should not be something which is non-digitized for this millennial customer.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging test for all solutions to prove how reliable and agile they are in the new circumstances.
Authored by to Raviganesh Venkataraman, Chief Executive Officer, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals
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