Representational Image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational Image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Govt’s telemedicine service crosses 5 million consultations

The ministry had begun online out patient department (OPD) consultations in April last year during the nationwide lockdown announced by the Centre in March to manage coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in the country
PUBLISHED ON MAY 14, 2021 09:40 AM IST

Union health ministry’s eSanjeevani telemedicine service crossed 5 million tele-consultations on Thursday, in about a little over a year since the service began.

The ministry had begun online out patient department (OPD) consultations in April last year during the nationwide lockdown announced by the Centre in March to manage coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in the country.

“The flagship National Telemedicine Service of MoHFW has served more than 50 lakh (0.5 million) patients. Patient to doctor remote consultation services were rolled out by the Union Ministry in April 2020 while the OPDs in the country were closed during first lockdown. The eSanjeevani initiative is operational in 31 states/Union Territories in the country and daily, around 40,000 patients across the country are using this contactless and risk-free modality of healthcare services delivery,” said the health ministry in a statement.

The service operates at two levels: the doctor-to-doctor telemedicine platform, and the doctor-to-patient platform.

The doctor-to-doctor telemedicine platform is being implemented at all the health and wellness centres (HWC) in the country in hub and spoke model under the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme. So far, eSanjeevaniAB-HWC has been implemented at least 18,000 health and wellness centres and 1,500 hubs, and by December 2022, it would be operational at 155,000 health and wellness centres.

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Telemedicine entails delivery of health services from a distance using internet and it not only extends the reach of health services but also improves quality of health services besides saving time and money.

eSanjeevaniAB-HWC was rolled out in November 2019, and 22 states have started using this digital modality for close to around 2 million patients that have been extended health services by doctors and specialists. In all, at least 21,000 users, including specialists, doctors and community health officers, have been trained and onboarded on eSanjeevaniAB-HWC.

The other module of national telemedicine service is eSanjeevaniOPD. It has been rolled out in 28 states and Union Territories. At least 350 OPDs have been set up on eSanjeevaniOPD, over 300 of these are specialty OPDs. Close to 3,000,000 patients have been served through eSanjeevaniOPD, a free of cost service.

“Few states are working towards rolling out special home isolation OPDs wherein the patients will be screened for Covid-19 and for remote screening purposes. States are planning to engage final year MBBS students. Owing to the increasing load of cases, in a few states, eSanjeevaniOPD is being used round-the-clock. Tamil Nadu is the first state to record over 1 million consultations on eSanjeevani. The Ministry of Defence too has roped in veterans of armed forces medical services to provide their services to the public in selected states,” the statement said.

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