Govt issues guidelines for telemedicine

NEW DELHI: The health ministry issued telemedicine guidelines on Wednesday enabling doctors to write prescriptions based on telephone conversations that reduce risks of transmission for medical professionals as well as patients.
The move, aimed at decongesting healthcare facilities in the wake of Covid-19, will also make healthcare accessible to remote areas in general and make faster intervention possible with the current immobilisation due to coronavirus making hospital and clinic visits difficult.
The document provides information on various aspects of telemedicine, including on technology platforms and tools available to medical practitioners and how to integrate these technologies to provide healthcare delivery. It also spells out how technology and transmission of voice, data, images and information should be used in conjunction with other clinical standards, protocols, policies and procedures to provide care.
“Disasters and pandemics pose unique challenges to providing healthcare. Though telemedicine will not solve them all, it is well suited for scenarios in which medical practitioners can evaluate and manage patients. A telemedicine visit can be conducted without exposing staff to viruses/infections in the times of such outbreaks,” the guidelines framed by the board of governors of the Medical Council of India along with Niti Aayog said.
The guidelines said that telemedicine practice can prevent the risk of transmission of infectious diseases to both healthcare workers and patients. Unnecessary and avoidable exposure of the people involved in the delivery of healthcare can be avoided using telemedicine and patients can be screened remotely. Besides, it also enables additional resources.
“Thus, health systems that are invested in telemedicine are well positioned to ensure that patients with Covid-19 kind of issues receive the care they need,” the guidelines said.
“Clarity in regulations around telemedicine and digital healthcare was the need of the hour, especially in light of Covid-19. This has made access to quality healthcare simpler and reachable to masses,” Shashank ND, co-founder & CEO of Practo, said.

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