Stressing tele-consultancy, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to furnish details of the mobile telephone companies who are licensed to operate in all three states for the patients who are isolated at home.
Tele-consultancy is not easily forthcoming for patients in home isolation as telephone numbers of healthcare professionals who can provide help are not readily available, the bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh observed.
“It would be considered whether telephone companies operating in that area can publish such numbers to their consumers in the local zones in order to facilitate tele-consultancy/telemedicine,” it said. “This would prove to be considerable help to those patients who are isolated at home and instill confidence in them that they are under medical supervision.”
Last month, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Board of Governors (BoG) Medical Council of India (MCI) issued telemedicine guidelines. It stated that disasters and pandemics pose unique challenges in 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 and infections in times of such outbreaks,” the guidelines read. It was issued to decongest the healthcare facilities as doctors can consult the patient remotely which would protect the patients and the doctors from virus transmission, and does not disrupt the lockdown measures.
As such the new guidelines involved all channels of communication with the patient that leverage information technology platforms, including voice, audio, text and digital data exchange and most importantly allowed doctors to prescribe medicines.
Dr Inder Maurya, Founder and CEO, Foreign OPD, said being unable to prescribe the medicine to solve the minor issues made telemedicine futile. “However, with the revised guidelines, the registered medical practitioner is more encouraged as he can prescribe medicine and is legally protected because everything is recorded,” Dr Maurya said. “Most importantly, it will enable access to good and affordable care to tier-I and tier-II cities and reduce the load on our secondary and tertiary care hospital.”