Telemedical consultation: An alternative in Covid-19 world
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, June 5 (EMN): Telemedical consultation that allows healthcare professionals to treat patients from a distance is becoming a necessity in a world brought to a standstill by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some Indian health workers over the decade have been practicing online consultation while in Nagaland, only a handful of doctors have been involved with this kind of approach.
Dr. Keduovinuo Keditsu, a cancer surgeon at Putuonuo Nursing Home in Kohima, who has been involved in telemedical consultation for more than three years, shared her opinions and experiences with Eastern Mirror recently.
Keditsu, who is said to be the only cancer surgeon in the state, shared that she does tele-consultation for her cancer patients who have earlier been treated and examined. “I also co-ordinate tele-consultations with medical and radiation oncologists outside the state and abroad, for my patients in Nagaland,” she said.
Keditsu shared that she generally does not do tele-consultations for first time patients as she considers it ‘inadequate and inappropriate to advice treatment related to cancer without seeing the patient in person’.
When asked if her patients show satisfaction and improvements, Keditsu said patients are happy to be in connection with the doctors as they can reach out in times of need without much effort and provide solutions as and when required.
Keditsu shared that it is important for patients to understand that telemedicine does not replace conventional face-to-face patient -to-doctor consultation.
“Telemedicine is just an alternative in dire and desperate situation, such as the instances where patient is unable to travel due to various reasons—long distance, bad road conditions, financial constraints, poor health conditions etc., or there is lack of the required specialist doctor in a particular district or state, as well as these times of lockdown,” she said.
She however shared that her personal experience with telemedicine in the field of oncology may not apply to all fields of medicine.
Also, she said that the range of drugs that a doctor is permitted to prescribe within a telemedical consultation is limited, and hence patients need to understand this limitation. She also emphasised on the importance of patients providing detailed and accurate information and ‘utmost honesty and transparency ‘ from the patient’s side.
This newspaper also spoke with Dr. Apong Longchar, a child specialist and neonatologist at Nikos Hospital and Research Centre in Dimapur.
Longchar, who recently started telemedical consultation, said: “I had this idea for a long time, especially to reach out to people in the far-flung places of our state, but due to legal issues and the technology (smartphone accessibility and mobile network problem) it could not be used effectively.”
The doctor said he is using telemedical consultation to reach out to his patients as the Covid-19 pandemic has ‘changed the whole dynamic’.
“The beauty of telemedicine will be when it becomes a day-to-day thing and start reaching out to more rural people. Doctors can’t be available everywhere but through phone we can serve them,” he said.
Longchar, who has been practising since 2011, said that after the government of India made it legal, a group of paediatric doctors in Dimapur discussed and set some basic rules for doing this in Nagaland, and most of them have already started treating patients.
When asked about the charges, he said payments could be made through any online apps like Paytm, Google Pay, net banking etc.
It may be mentioned that few hospitals and clinics in the state have also started telemedical consultations.