How Telemedicine Is Aiding The Fight Against COVID-19

by Arun Kumar Das - Apr 8, 2020 03:25 PM +05:30 IST
How Telemedicine Is Aiding The Fight Against COVID-19A modern toaster-sized ventilator (Representative Image)
Snapshot
  • New guidelines allow doctors to write prescriptions based on telephonic, textual or video conversations — chats, images, messaging, emails and fax among others being the chosen tools of communication.

    Citizens can, therefore, consult certified medical practitioners without exiting the house, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread.

Telemedicine, tele-counselling, and helplines have emerged as important tools to ensure citizen well-being in major cities, with social distancing being one of the key measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citizens are collaborating with medical practitioners such as certified doctors and health experts in the city to get online medical consultation facilities.

According to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with NITI Aayog and the Indian Medical Council, the practice of remote delivery of medical services during the lockdown period is allowed.

The guidelines allow doctors to write prescriptions based on telephonic, textual or video conversations — chats, images, messaging, emails, fax and others.

Citizens can, therefore, consult certified medical practitioners without exiting the house, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread.

The Smart City project, one of the flagship schemes of the government, envisages effective communication with district administrations to monitor civic amenities, and health and sanitary conditions in the area.

In the prevailing situation, the suspected cases of COVID-19 are being monitored and addressed using the Telemedicine tool in these cities, said a senior Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry official.

According to Ministry data, in Madhya Pradesh, the integrated command and control centre (ICCC) at Bhopal is being used as a helpline and tele-counselling centre for citizens.

Integrated with 104, the toll-free number of ICCC, the operators are trained to attend to calls while medical officers are stationed at ICCC in different shifts to assist during any situation.

In the Ujjain ICCC, two doctors are stationed at the centre, 24 hours, to take video conferencing/telephone calls from citizens and give appropriate advice based on symptoms. 40 Medical Mobile Units (MMU) are operationalised to distribute medicines to people based on prescriptions by doctors.

In Jabalpur, dedicated Rapid Response Teams (RRT) and Mobile Action Units (MAU) are present on the ground ward-wise who coordinate with officials present at the ICCC regarding screening, ambulance services, and quarantine among others. A medical team is stationed at the ICCC to provide any immediate medical attention to citizens through the helpline.

Facilities of telemedicine and video consultation of citizens through WhatsApp video call with number +917222967605 are in place. All the operators are given daily tasks to monitor quarantined citizens, passengers who came in from abroad recently and resolve general queries regarding Covid-19.

In Gwalior, a 24X7 counselling help-desk has been set up at the ICCC. Trained professionals resolve the queries raised by citizens at an initial level and these calls are then connected to a designated doctor. This counselling process is seen to be reducing panic among citizens/callers. Doubtful citizens are being encouraged to consult a doctor.

In Satna and Sagar, doctors are stationed at the ICCC to take video conferencing/ telephone calls from citizens and give appropriate advice based on symptoms experienced.

Uttar Pradesh

Kanpur Smart City is tracking health services from its ICCC. Telemedicine is offered through video conferencing facility launched by the city administration. Citizens have been requested to make video calls on the number 8429525801 if required.

In Aligarh, doctors are deployed at Aligarh Smart City Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) from 11 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm to enable Telemedicine and video conferencing with citizens through a dedicated number.

Maharashtra

The Nagpur Municipal Corporation has launched a Coronavirus application for the benefit of citizens having problems such as cough, fever and difficulty in breathing.

Citizens will just have to fill information about their symptoms on this mobile application and submit it, after which the application detects whether they have related symptoms or not.

In case of identified symptoms, the mobile application will inform the team of NMC doctors for further monitoring and action.

Karnataka

In Mangaluru, a dedicated call centre with helpline no. 1077 has been operationalised for monitoring and advising citizens under self-quarantine as part of its telemedicine programme.

Dedicated professionals from Mangaluru Corporation, police and doctors are available at the Command and Control Centre (CCC), to take calls from citizens and provide appropriate information.

Tamil Nadu

In Chennai, 25 doctors engaged in the ICCC are guiding 250 people who are in quarantined with moral and psychological support.

They will also prescribe medicines, if required. In Vellore, 118 suspects have been mapped by individual health experts for regular advice.

The contact details and medical history are shared and necessary advice given to the suspects.

Gujarat

In Gandhinagar, the health team (expert doctors) suggests initial steps/precautions to be taken such as home quarantine through video conference only. Contact numbers of grocery stores for all sectors of Gandhinagar have been publicised through the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation’s website.

Rajasthan

Kota Smart City is facilitating remote digital medical consultation and connects local medical stores.

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at akdas2005@gmail.com.


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