Moderated by Dr. Shailesh Jain, Chairman & MD, Universal Hospital. The other eminent panelists who took part in the discussion day two of the 10th Healthcare Leadership Forum were Ravindra Karanjekar, Chief Executive Officer, Kiran Super Multispecialty Hospital, Abdullah Saleem, Group CIO, Omni Hospitals, Balihar Singh Virk, GM – IT, SPS Hospitals, Dr. Chandrika Kambam, Director – Clinical Services, Health Care Global (HCG) Enterprises Limited, Dr. Ajay Kohli, Head Clinical Affairs, Narayana Hospital, and Dr Dilip Rangarajan, Group Medical Director, NU Hospital.
Initiating the discussion Dr. Shailesh Jain, Chairman & MD, Universal Hospital, said,”Telemedicine the real use was understood during the pandemic but still it is in the face of infancy. If we talk about the benefits of telemedicine for the patients it is a low cost, improved access, while for hospitals it will be cost-effective, reduce the workload the panelists.”
Talking about the future of telemedicine, Dr. Chandrika Kambam, Director – Clinical Services, HCG Enterprises Limited, said, “Telemedicine is not something new it is been there for the last 20 years now, but hardly it was taken up or the growth slow due to lack of infrastructure. In the past 20 years, many hospitals and healthcare facilities equipped themselves and the pandemic gave the extra push. Looking forward hospitals will become more hybrid that support this virtual consultation culture. Connectivity with robust online infrastructure, training on digital platforms will become mandatory. Telemedicine is here to stay.”
Giving insights on the cost effectiveness implementing in telemedicine, Balihar Singh Virk, GM – IT, SPS Hospitals, said,” Initial investment for a telemedicine platform has drastically gone down. All it needs is a quality webcam and 200 Mbps Internet connectivity, and one can use a telemedicine platform. In 2005 the investment for equipment and infrastructure was running to lakhs of rupees. Now the virtual consultation has come a long way, and this pandemic has really changed the perspective of the patients.
Talking about the revenue aspect, Ravindra Karanjekar, Chief Executive Officer, Kiran Super Multispecialty Hospital, said, “Teleconsultation does not give much revenue to the hospital. Hospital revenue comes from operation theatres, ICUs and major procedures, as for teleconsultations or diagnostics procedures do not give sizable revenue we can reach to the patients and do follow-ups but not much revenue.”
Commenting on the training part of telemedicine, Dr. Ajay Kohli, Head Clinical Affairs, Narayana Hospital, said,”The telemedicine should be brought into daily use as and revenue can be increased how are we putting into use is the concern. Convergence can happen at the doctor’s level we can have telemedicine outreach camps, there should be a streamlined effort. As a provider, we must know the multiple uses of telemedicine assure patients and building a long term customer value is important.”
Giving a CIO perception, Abdullah Saleem, Group CIO, Omni Hospitals, said,”Technology is the order of the day. Telemedicine is going to add value in terms of patient engagement, cost-effectiveness, customer satisfaction, adhere social distance protocols post-pandemic. If the patient engagement is better it will have a positive impact on our revenue.”
Talking about the disadvantages of telemedicine, Dr. Dilip Rangarajan, Group Medical Director, NU Hospital, said, “Some chronic cases can be dealt via teleconsultation but emergency can’t b handled. The lack of physical examination by a doctor is a major disadvantage, the quality of scans and diagnosis report which are transmitted may not be good for diagnosis, interpretation of prescription can also lead to medico-legal issues
The government has also made the guidelines on how to issue a prescription for telemedicine everyone should adhere to it.”
“Second opinion and consultation with patients around the world are doable. There are so many advantages but for interventions, patients need to go to the hospital, also online consultation helps patients to trust the hospital more and develop as it creates bonding and patients’ trust increases. Among telemedicine segment tele-ICUs are catching up big time as many are opting for it” Kambam added.
Highlighting that besides consultation telemedicine can be used in the mass screening programs, Rangarajan said, ”Using telemedicine a mass diabetes screening program is done in the rural village of Kancheepuram in Tamil nadu, where blood glucose level is checked and they have a mobile van with doctors for consultation. Similarly, ophthalmologists were screening are done for retinopathy. In nephrology, many patients are scared to come to hospital due to spread of COVID-19 virus infection so many opt for teleconsultation.”
Summing up the use of telemedicine during the pandemic and future prospects Karanjekar, said,” The pandemic as changed our mindset, first opinion, cross consultations, the second opinion as been augmented. In diagnostics we need handheld instruments in virtual consultation though it is limited as of now this will grow exponentially in the future. In telesurgery we have a limited role.