National Doctor’s Day 2020: Will teleconsultation be the next big thing in healthcare?
Extended working hours, no sleep, hospitals teeming with patients, the risk of getting infected and barely any ‘me time’ — these are just a few things doctors face every day. While one may think this is what their profession entails, the outbreak of Covid-19 has certainly brought about a change in the way we perceive doctors.
July 1 is observed as National Doctor’s Day in India, but this year it comes at a very crucial juncture. Undoubtedly, the fear of contracting the virus has seeped into our lives. But for doctors, too, the situation is no different.
Covid-19 is a virus that’s new to the world, and each day comes with a learning curve, be it for doctors or commoners. However, one cannot let fear take over, asserts Dr Aashish Chaudhry, a Delhi-based senior orthopedic consultant. “I urge people to have more faith than fear in their ability to control the virus. Citizens have to be positive,” he says. Dr Chaudhry adds that in the times to come, we would witness a change in the way healthcare delivery systems work. “Healthcare institutions will have to innovate, and digital health is going to take a big leap. Also, healthcare at home is the new big thing. Gone are the days when patients will visit a hospital. They will only come to the hospital when it’s completely necessary and for tertiary care,” he adds.
Echoing similar views, Dr HS Chhabra, medical director of a Delhi-based hospital, says contactless delivery of services could become a reality in the foreseeable future. “Teleconsultation has seen a great surge and acceptance, and this is likely to stay. While this will reduce hospital visits, it may increase the workload of doctors and other medical staff. In rural areas, where healthcare access is dismal, tele-consultancy can help in primary healthcare and triage, but all this is subject to better network connectivity,” he says.
However, Delhi-based Dr Gauri Agarwal feels lesser physical interaction has its own drawbacks. “The traditional way of treating a patient no longer remains valid. Guarded by PPEs, the interaction is likely to become more impersonal and physically distant. This can emerge as a challenge in detecting and treating diseases, as the personal connection between doctors and their patients has a calming effect on the latter and has been found to be clinically helpful in both palliative and curative care,” she notes.
As Dr Arjun Dang, the CEO of a renowned Delhi-based private lab that is conducting drive-through Covid-19 tests, points out, being a doctor isn’t just about treating a patient, but about care and compassion. “Being a pathologist, I feel every sample received is not just a sample but a human being who has placed all his trust in us and deserves the best. We must not forget that despite the advent of technology, one thing that’s always been the cornerstone of good healthcare is the trust and empathy between doctors and their patients,” he opines.
Echoing the sentiment, Pune-based Dr Mahesh Lakhe, who specialises in internal medicine, says, “In the face of adversities, you are the one who helps improve patients’ lives and restores their faith in the greater system of care. This comes with great responsibility and stress, as well as profound significance,” he adds.
As Dr Agarwal shares, it is now time for citizens to become responsible and help doctors in carrying out their duties. “Covid-19 has shaken people on more than one front. However, this is the time to remain positive, alert and hopeful,” she reasons.
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