The long-pending guidelines on telemedicine finally saw the light of day, in the wake of the unprecedented health crisis facing the country.
- The guidelines proposed 10 years ago were finally sanctioned by the Centre to cope with the Covid-19 outbreak.
- Considering distance is a critical factor in delivering healthcare services during the ongoing crisis, doctors will now be allowed to use information and communication technologies for exchange of valid information for diagnosis and treatment of ailments.
- It involves delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis.
- It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions.
Guidelines for Telemedicine in India:
- Telemedicine should be appropriate and sufficient as per context.
- Telemedicine consultation should not be anonymous: both the patient and the RMP ( Registered medical practitioner) need to know each other’s identity.
- Multiple technologies can be used to deliver telemedicine consultations. Primarily there are 3 modes: Video, Audio or Text (chat, images, messaging, email, fax etc.).
- Patient consent is necessary for any telemedicine consultation, it may be explicit or implicit.
- RMPs must make all efforts to gather sufficient medical information about the patient’s condition before making any professional judgment.
- There are two types of patient consultations, namely, first consult and the follow-up consult.
- If the condition can be appropriately managed via telemedicine, based on the type of consultation, then the RMP may proceed with a professional judgement to:
- Provide Health Education as appropriate in the case; and/or
- Provide Counseling related to specific clinical condition; and/or
- Prescribe Medicines
- The guidelines also prescribe duties and responsibilities of a Registered medical professional like adhering to medical ethics, data privacy and confidentiality.
- Globally, telemedicine has emerged as a front-line weapon against the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US and the National Health Service in the UK have recommended its use for identifying high-risk patients and for treating other illnesses during the outbreak.
- The telemedicine guidelines would be invaluable in counselling and triaging patients in these trying times.
- It will allow more people to provide physical care at the respective health institutions.
- It can prevent the transmission of infectious diseases, reducing the risks to both healthcare workers and patients.
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