Telemedicine: A Paradigm Shift in Healthcare in the wake of COVID-19 in India LA01-LA03
Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute, Kelambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the delivery of essential healthcare services in India. The massive disruption of the routine healthcare services had been circumvented to a certain extent with the application of telemedicine. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India has issued regulatory guidelines and approved Registered Medical Practitioners (RMP) to adopt the usage of teleconsultation service which can be real-time or asynchronous to minimise the risk of disease transmission. The commentary provides an in-depth review of the regulatory guidelines implemented by the Government of India and discusses the inherent structural and fundamental challenges associated with its wide scale adoption, accessibility, and utilisation. Though the Government of India had issued national guidelines to promote safe and effective usage of telemedicine practice, there remains certain primary structural, technical and institutional challenges regarding expansion of uninterrupted services to periurban and rural peripheral health facilities and its nationwide sustainability. The article demands the attention of the policymakers and relevant stakeholders to identify the inherent bottlenecks intrinsic to the guidelines and amend the regulatory framework accordingly to ensure its long-term sustainability.