National Doctors’ Day 2021 acquires special significance in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic as doctors and healthcare professionals rose to the occasion to combat the Coronavirus pandemic. eHEALTH’s Mrinmoy Bhattacharjee asks the doctors how they observe Digital Health amidst the Covid-19 pandemic:
National Doctors’ Day is observed every year on July 1 by Indian Medical Association (IMA) to commemorate the birth and death anniversary of the iconic physician Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy’s exemplary contributions in the fields of medicine and science in specific and humanity at large. The day also assumes significance as it is marked to honour the contributions of doctors and healthcare professionals in everyday life.
On this occasion, eHEALTH connects with these doctors to know how they observe Digital Health amidst the Covid-19 pandemic:
Dr KM Cherian, CEO & Chairman, Frontier Lifeline Hospital, Chennai: With the pandemic changing the world’s lifestyle, we are progressing towards a ‘Phygital’ era, where technology will play a crucial role. Tools that support virtual care and diagnosis can be fruitful for patients with heart disease. They also aid doctors in their efficiency. The branch of telemedicine especially for cardiac patients is known as telecardiology, which aims to monitor patients in real-time for irregularities and offer remote diagnoses. This technology will be useful for the treatment of heart diseases such as congestive heart failure, cardiac arrest and arrhythmia.
Telemedicine removes the barriers of transportation and the requirement of physical presence to submit initial data or details. Many a time, the unavailability of doctors for consultation also tends to create anxiety in patients. With telemedicine technology, doctors are just a click away and available for advice 24×7.
An extremely important point in the road to building healthcare is fostering and nurturing indigenous technology. There has to be support from the government for medical R&D entities working on various advanced health solutions. Red Tapes must be removed so that such innovators are able to avail the benefits of various policy initiatives. There has to be some provision for financial support and tax benefits which can be an encouragement to these R&D entities.
There is the rising use of Artificial intelligence-powered robots in surgical environments. Robotic technologies can be used in many areas that directly affect patient care. Some of their applications include disinfecting patient rooms and operating sets, reducing risks for patients and medical personnel. They can be used to work in laboratories to take samples and transport, analyze and store them. The robotic lab assistant can locate that vessel and draw the blood with less pain and anxiety for the patient to save the trouble of multiple pokes for finding that good vein.
Dr S S Vasan, Andrologist, and Co-founder, Janani: The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about drastic behavioural changes in the healthcare ecosystem. Healthcare practice is now increasingly dependent on technology. With the latest tools and services, doctors can offer quality care and manage relationships even better than before. During the first and second waves, patients looking for OPD appointments have had to look for alternative ways, as many hospitals were serving only Covid-19 patients and doctors had temporarily suspended face-to-face consultations. However, digital solutions have been able to not just solve this problem to a large extent, but create unique and, in some cases, even better experiences for those seeking healthcare solutions.
Tele or video consults have become extremely popular, and companies are finding more and more ways to bring services to people’s homes, which earlier would only have been available in hospitals and clinics. One such example is Janani’s At Home Semen sample collection letting people collect their samples at the comfort of their homes.
In fact, it has become very crucial for doctors to adapt to the use of digital tools to be able to cater to patients in the new normal. Digital tools like consolidated clinical database, remote monitoring for chronic disease patients, etc, has streamlined the treatment process for doctors, helping us to offer quality care effectively. I believe that over the coming days, we will see even more such innovations being brought to the market and the medical industry will adapt and evolve continuously to provide superior and innovative solutions to patients.
Dr AK Gadpayle, Professor and Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Sharda Hospital, Greater Noida: With the introduction of the term Health 2.0 in early 2000, India waded into the digital healthcare space. Healthcare workers including doctors are using digital technology. It has advantages over routine working in the form of accurate diagnosis, hassle-free experience and data collection. It also consumes less time and space.
The ‘Digital India’ mission introduced by the Government of India has made tremendous progress in the Covid 19 management via Aarogya Setu and CoWIN Apps. Digital technology has empowered the doctor fraternity for early and correct diagnosis.
Health information system inventory management has made file record and decision and disposal easy as they are not changeable which reduces corruption. During the pandemic, digital technology had made wonders.
Dr Radhika Banka, Consultant Respiratory Physician, PD Hinduja National Hospital & MRC, Mumbai: Digital technologies using video conferencing and digital monitoring have been used extensively worldwide in this pandemic. This has made healthcare more accessible even in remote areas and is now being extended in illnesses beyond Covid19, and patients with chronic health conditions prefer video conferencing for their disease monitoring. Digital technology has also been vital in monitoring patients with Covid-19, and this has enabled doctors to reduce their exposure to the disease in healthcare institutions. With most of the conferences and seminars now held virtually, a greater number of healthcare professionals has been able to access these resources.
Dr Vineet Talwar, Director, Medical Oncology, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre: Cancer is a disease that can progress rapidly if the treatment is halted. Tools such as telemedicine have emerged as a saviour for cancer patients to continue their treatment in these pandemic times since there were restrictions on mobility and there are chances of contracting the infection. Through video conferencing, physicians can physically see the patients and use their clinical acumen, and accordingly, further management is prescribed. Local doctors have been of much help especially when a patient is not able to travel. In such cases, local doctors are also a part of video conferencing. Local family doctors without hesitation can consult the treating oncologist for clarifications, so that, treatment is not interrupted. In the process, family doctors are also acquiring more knowledge about cancer and can spot symptoms early on and help the patients accordingly. Social media platforms have provided another opportunity to act as a bridge between treating oncologists and the patients as videos can be shared easily.
Dr Sanket Jain, Consultant Chest Physician – Pulmonologist, Masina Hospital: Telemedicine has been a great help to all the doctors especially the ones dealing with the pandemic. As telemedicine is the method of delivering medical care where neither the medical staff nor the physicians are physically present, it was the need of the hour during the pandemic. Many chronic patients can have teleconsultations from home to avoid face-to-face clinic visits to minimise the risk of exposure to the Covid-19. By deploying advanced Telehealth solutions, physicians are expanding their reach even if quarantined. With the ability to remotely examine and diagnose more patients in a shorter amount of time, it is minimising the number of patients entering hospitals and medical facilities.