Amid transport curbs, COVID-19 fears, patients wary of seeking treatment in cities
The National Health Mission (NHM) in Madhya Pradesh has decided to take services of medical specialists to rural belts through telemedicine as public transport remains largely suspended due to the lockdown and reluctant patients fearing travelling to cities, hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Offering consultancy through electronic communication in remote areas could bring down patient burden on urban tertiary care institutions by pruning the referral count, besides improving accessibility to healthcare, say NHM officials.
In the first phase, 50 primary healthcare centres in Rajgarh, Raisen, Vidisha and Sehore districts, that are dependent mostly on tertiary-care institutions in Bhopal, had been linked with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhopal, said NHM State-unit Additional Mission Director Saloni Sidana.
Doctors of the gynaecology, paediatrics and medicine departments of the institute, where almost 30-50% patients referred are from neighbouring districts, would offer telemedicine services three days a week respectively, said Dr. Sidana. “Most common diseases relate to the branches whose care is not often available at health centres. The aim is to take doctors to patients rather than the other way round,” she explained.
A patient visiting a centre in her catchment area could seek consultation from a specialist through e-Sanjeevani software — aided by the local medical officer — who may prescribe generic medicines available there or advice referral in case complicated intervention was required. Around 1,000 consultations had been offered since August 15 when the model operationalised.
Further, sub-centres and health and wellness centres were being linked with 51 district hospitals through telemedicine. Ms. Sidana said all 11,000 PHCs in the State would benefit from the telemedicine service in a phased manner through public-private partnership, wherein private consultants would offer consultation free.