Mangaluru: Among the many questions and concerns that people all over India have right now, one of the most urgent questions is — what do I do if I have to visit the doctor?
Amidst the 21-day lockdown to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, people with health issues aren’t able to visit doctor’s private clinics because all of them are closed. And they do not want to risk visiting a hospital because they could come in contact with people who have been infected with the Coronavirus.
Fortunately, this is a problem that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) foresaw. In collaboration with NITI Aayog and the Medical Council of India (MCI), the MoHFW released guidelines for a new way to consult with your doctor — through telemedicine.
What is telemedicine?
According to the new telemedicine guidelines, doctors will now be able to write prescriptions based on telephonic, textual or video conversations with their patients. So if you have any health concerns, the best thing to do is have a phone call or video call with your doctor first. This way, you avoid going out of the house and avoid the risk of getting infected.
Of course, many people have already been calling their doctors or messaging them on WhatsApp even before these guidelines came out. So what is different about this now?
The main difference is that doctors can legally prescribe medicines based on a phone call or video call with the patient. Also, in the past, you would only be able to do this with your family doctor because they know you personally. But now, the new guidelines allow you to consult any doctor virtually.
Challenging times call For swift action
Many doctors have praised the government for taking swift action. The doctors themselves will be at risk if patients come to visit them. But with the practice of telemedicine, they can be safe and also help their patients.
People assume that doctors have to see the patient in person to diagnose the problem properly, but this is not true. In many cases, doctors can get a good idea of what the problem is through a phone call or video call and can prescribe the necessary medicines.
In fact, in the present situation of lockdown, it’s always best to have the first consultation through a video call or phone call. After that, the medicines can be delivered through a delivery service, or if it’s really needed, the patient can be given a pass to go to the hospital.
Startups are entering into telemedicine
These new guidelines from the Ministry of Health have opened up the opportunity for startups to enter into the field. AltMed, a telemedicine company in Mangalore has launched a website that allows patients from Mangalore to book an online appointment with a doctor, get medicines delivered to the doorstep and even book diagnostic tests if needed.
“The idea for AltMed was born when our colleague’s mother was sick recently”, says Arjun D’Souza, the founder of AltMed and the co-founder of Alter Marketing. “We did not want to risk going to the hospital and calling the family doctor wasn’t enough — we needed a specialist.”
AltMed has already onboarded a wide variety of doctors — from general practitioners and gynecologists to ENTs and Neuropsychiatrists. “We wanted to help Mangloreans consult a doctor quickly — which is why if you book an appointment on AltMed, you can speak to a doctor within 10-15 minutes”, says Arjun. “We wanted to ensure that people suffering from health issues other than COVID-19 did not have to step out of the house unless absolutely necessary. And if they really have to visit the hospital, we can even get them an emergency pass after the first consultation.”
You can message AltMed on Whatsapp — 9380506180 or call their helpline — +91 90197 68987 or Visit www.alt-med.in for more details.
These are difficult times for everyone. But for the first time in human history, a world that is connected through the internet is tackling a problem that affects us all. Despite the difficulties, there is hope that innovations like telemedicine can help ease the suffering of the common people.
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