Let’s imagine that the world was amid a marathon race. Suddenly, the rules change. The race is now a sprint, and we must adapt, whether we like it or not. Ever since the pandemic wave swept through the world, the healthcare sector has been going through the same situation.
Across the world, hospitals and healthcare workers have been under tremendous pressure to provide timely care to many patients. As these numbers rise alarmingly, the healthcare industry is toiling to build more resilient systems and methods of delivering healthcare services to millions. Technology is one of their most innovative tools to achieve this goal.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, also referred to as telehealth or e-medicine is the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions.
What are the advantages of Telemedicine Technology?
Telemedicine is a fine example of how technology is helping the sector address the unprecedented demand. Though telemedicine or remote care for patients has been a concept for quite some time, mainstream adoption remains a challenge. Even in countries like India, where access to healthcare remains a barrier, telemedicine has fewer takers.
Enter Covid-19. Shortage of healthcare workers, insufficient infrastructure and risk of infection for front-line workers and citizens have led to large-scale adoption of virtual healthcare and telemedicine in the last few months. For example, digital health platform Practo has reported over 100 per cent week-on-week surge in its teleconsultation services since March 2020. Many large hospitals have built dedicated telemedicine services to cater to the growing demand since the lockdown. Telemedicine Practice Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health have provided much-needed clarity in the Indian healthcare sector.
Experts contend that telemedicine could become the ‘new normal’ and will be considered an efficient approach to healthcare in the long run.
But, establishing a reliable telemedicine practice is not easy for the key stakeholders involved—whether it’s the healthcare providers, governments or tech firms.
How Cloud Solutions Can Help Healthcare Scale Telemedicine Efforts
Cloud delivers agility and ease-of-use
A report by the US Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy highlights that India has a shortage of an estimated 600,000 doctors and 2 million nurses. In many ways, telemedicine–though not a cure-all for the accessibility crisis in our country—has been brought to the fore promptly.
But, telemedicine systems had to be deployed on the fly. Existing deployments had to be scaled up massively, and user adoption was another big hurdle. Cloud-based healthcare platforms have been a great boon for providers at this critical juncture. Responding to the Covid-19 crisis meant that healthcare providers roll out telemedicine services almost in real-time. Budget constraints and legacy systems often come in the way of agility and innovation.
With Cloud, many healthcare providers have quickly integrated telemedicine into their healthcare delivery systems without worrying about substantial upfront costs or scale-up issues. Cloud-based systems can run within a few hours and typically require no additional software or hardware installations. Cloud also effectively addresses user experience—a factor often ignored during an emergency.
Built-in security components and real-time network monitoring capabilities make Cloud a highly secure model while dealing with vast volumes of sensitive data.
In India, startups have been at the forefront of providing innovative cloud-based virtual health services, quickly becoming the chosen modes of healthcare delivery—both in urban and rural areas. The initial resistance from doctors and established healthcare systems towards telemedicine has almost disappeared.
We have had many spectacular stories about Indian health tech startups leveraging cloud technology to deliver telemedicine services to meet extraordinary demands. Cloud-native startups such as Innovaccer, Qure.ai and TruFactor are some of the leading names that have shown remarkable benefits, in partnerships with various state governments, during the pandemic.
Estimates for the Indian telemedicine industry were bright, even before the pandemic struck, with numbers predicted to surpass $5 billion by 2025. The Covid-19 crisis will likely pave the way for innovative and sustainable telemedicine models to revolutionize the Indian healthcare sector.
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