Telemedicine in times of corona
I have been practicing medicine for the past eighteen years. Somehow, I have always been extremely skeptical about online doctor consultation. I never understood the concept and always wondered how on earth it can help patients!! ten months ago, I started online consultation although very reluctantly. I started with doing it about two to three hours every day in the evening. Initially I found it very difficult to adopt to the software part and then audio consultation and then tying the prescription. All this did look very tedious to me. With time I got used to it but still was not too sure of what I was doing, also I was thinking how does it help me as a doctor, because those who were around would come to my hospital and if people from remote places consult me how would that help me? At some point, I was also little bit irritated that people who could walk in were consulting online leisurely.
Now with changing times and circumstances especially in the last one month I have realized how much difference telemedicine has made to people’s lives. I have done around three hundred consultations in the last one month, doing around ten new cases and around five old cases per day. This experience has made me see how much more I can do as a doctor to the society, how much more resourceful I can be.
On any normal day when any woman missed periods, it was so simple to just go to the next-door pharmacy get a home UPT kit and do the test in two minutes. Now with the lockdown I have been getting calls from patients who have no access to medicines, with very high anxiety levels, confused, irritated and helpless about something which seemed so simple on any normal day. Vomiting and giddiness which are simple signs of pregnancy are causing panic among patients and our counseling and prescription at that time is like a boon to them.
Two days ago, I had a patient who called me for missed periods and taken medicine for termination, she was bleeding on and off. I asked her to take an ultrasound and every hospital she called asking for help were asking her what’s the emergency and refused to give her an appointment, finally I told her that she should go to a diagnostic Centre, show my prescription and ask for an emergency ultrasound. It turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. This case was from about 500kms away!! This was just in time help.
People undergoing infertility treatment have had no means of transport to reach hospital. They probably didn’t see this coming and were left clueless half the way in treatment. Such patients were going through lots of emotional agony, felt the loss of time and money, online doctor consultation really played a big role in counselling and comforting them specially in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and of course from remote places all over India.
Pregnant women were a different group altogether. It was extremely challenging to handle these patients as they had a lot of anxious queries which they would otherwise not be asking or worried about had it been a normal day. We had to put double the effort to make them feel comfortable. Complaints like gastritis, non-specific pain which are normal on and off were suddenly causing them a lot of panic and of course being indoor all the time, with no domestic help and a family to handle and many women working from home has taken a toll on women’s physical and emotional well-being. Needless arguments due to anxiety, have led to more psychological distress.
We have had patients who have poured their heart to us, emotional outbursts apart from our normal medical advice. It is so gratifying being instrumental in touching people’s life in such a nice way. It felt so good to hear the feedback from patients.
There have been enough WhatsApp messages on dos and don’ts about the corona, so I did not want to write about it extensively. I would advise to follow all lockdown rules, use telemedicine wisely, reach out to us (use online doctor consultation in Hyderabad). Doctors fraternity has always withstood tough times and done extraordinary service. Make use of technology, stay home, stay safe and we are still reachable!!!
I have realized, telemedicine is a natural evolution of healthcare in the digital world where time and distance are no more a constraint to approach doctors.