Telemedicine can help reach patients where access to medical care is difficult
- The world has very few devices left to fight COVID-19 with, but technology remains one of them.
- The pandemic has contributed, in no small measure, to the understanding of the myriad ways in which available technologies have not been put to better use, and presented people with multiple opportunities to harness these devices, techniques and methods to get on with life in the time of lockdown.
- Among the primary uses is telemedicine, rendered inexorable now, by the temporary paralysis brought on by a freeze on movement.
- The Centre’s recent guidelines allowing for widespread use of telemedicine services came as a shot in the arm for telehealth crusaders in the country, among them the Telemedicine Society of India that has long been battling to use the technology in its complete arc to reach remote areas in India.
- The advantages are peculiar in the current context, when putting distance between people is paramount, as teleconsultations are not barred even when health care professionals and patients may have to be quarantined.
- The advancement of telecommunication capabilities over the years has made the transmission of images and sound files (heart and lung sounds, coughs) faster and simpler. Pilot telemedicine experiments in ophthalmology and psychiatry have proven to be of immense benefit to the communities.
- While unleashing the full potential of telemedicine to help people, experts and government agencies must be mindful of the possible inadequacies of the medium, and securing sensitive medical information; such cognisance should guide the use of the technology.