Healthcare systems across the world have been struggling to tackle the rising number of COVID-19 cases and keeping mortality rates under check. At this juncture, state and central governments, hospitals and digital healthcare platforms are increasingly embracing telemedicine as one of the primary wellness strategies. Telemedicine is all about accessing healthcare through a call, video or chat, and is being considered much safer than visiting a doctor’s clinic or a hospital.
For the first time ever, five crore Indians have been found to turn to online consultations during the period of March 1, 2020 - May 31st, 2020, out of which 44% of the teleconsultations were from non-metro cities, reveals e-health service platform Practo’s Insights report.
The surge in teleconsultations follows the long-pending telemedicine guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Board of Governors (BoG) Medical Council of India (MCI).
As per the report, 80% of all telemedicine users were first-time consumers. In-person doctor visits went down by 67% and the average time spent with a doctor online was eight minutes.
Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 was India’s topmost concern as queries related to the disease went up by 200%, with 50% of all GP consultations accounting for coronavirus-related symptoms.
E-health platforms are generally used by millennials. But Practo has found that, in the last two months, people above 60 years of age have also used telemedicine to consult a certified medical practitioner, instead of resorting to self-medication.
General physicians, gynaecology and dermatology emerged as the top three specialities accounting for 51% of the overall consultations on Practo, according to a press release from the company. Besides, Tele-ENT witnessed 600% growth, since seasonal allergies were confused with COVID-19 symptoms. A significant rise in queries was seen in mental health, paediatrics, gynaecology, gastroenterology and ophthalmology, which grew by 700%.
Orthopaedics was among the most-consulted specialties by millennials, especially due to bad posture as a result of long work hours.
(Edited by Athira Nair)