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‘Telemedicine – win-win situation for patients, docs’

  Updated: Oct 06, 2019 20:06 IST

LUCKNOW The use of telemedicine is making a lot difference in follow-up consultation by patients of Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) who, besides reducing the crowd inside the hospital by 30%, are benefiting from the fact that they save money of travel to the hospital.

“The use of telemedicine is benefiting patients and doctors both,” said professor SK Mishra, head of department endocrinology and telemedicine.

He said: “We conducted a study in SGPGIMS to know about the benefits of use of telemedicine in a country like India, where patients have to sell their land etc for undergoing a simple surgery. Not only this, they have to take loans for follow-up treatments. To minimize the expenses after the surgery, follow up is performed on Skype and other modes of social media like WhatsApp.”

He said, “This study was conducted to analyse if in a resource constraint country, social media can provide a feasible, acceptable and cost effective mode of surgical care in post-operative period.”

A total 102 post thyroidectomy patients were offered to choose follow-up care either by conventional face to face meetings or remotely through social media (Skype). Data was analysed and it was found that 74.5% patients had internet facilities. Out of these 50% patients opted for conventional follow up whereas 24.5% patients consented for tele-follow up using social media. Distance from the treating hospital was the significant factor for acceptance of tele-follow up. Most of the far away patients chose to interact with doctor on social media platform, Mishra said.

Mishra said, “Here educated patients were able to understand the importance of tele-follow up better than others. In tele-follow up group, majority of patients 84% possessed graduate or postgraduate degree. Average cost and work days saving per visit was $68 (Rs 4,800 approx) and 4.4 days, respectively. Besides that the satisfaction level of such patients was very high.”

He added, “The study proved that even in resource constrained countries, social media can provide an alternative mode of healthcare delivery. Literate patients, who are conversant and comfortable with social media, understood the importance of staying back at home and consulting their doctor without stressing themselves. They were the ones who took advantage of this facility more than the lesser educated. For the majority, real-time consultations through videoconferencing appeared to be a viable alternative.”

Mishra added, “In the case of thyroid surgery and of a medicine or investigation, real-time consultations through video-conferencing appeared to be a viable alternative, especially if they could be provided at ease, from the patient’s home. Follow up advice can be provided and patients can obtain a psychological boost in talking to their physician, live. Sometimes they feel that doctors are giving them more time online.”