Telemedicine consultations in India increasing steadily say healthcare company
Kolkata/IBNS: The second wave and the subsequent lockdown saw more people opting for telemedicine as a primary mode of seeking medical care, according to Practo, an integrated healthcare company from India.
India saw record numbers of positive cases and deaths during the devastating second wave of COVID-19.
Shortage of hospital beds and oxygen supply pointed towards an overwhelmed healthcare system.
At this point, telemedicine came in handy, connecting patients with doctors remotely and enabling care, while reducing the burden on hospitals and clinics, said the healthcare company.
A report by Practo states that Indians consulted doctors ten times more during the second wave (April-May 2021), as compared to pre-COVID (January-February 2020).
More than 50 per cent of all online consultations were for Pulmonology and General Physician for queries related to Coronavirus and seasonal flu.
Other key specialties that were consulted during the period included Gynecology (10 per cent), Dermatology (8 per cent), and Pediatrics (5 per cent).
In this report, Practo drew a comparison between the use of telemedicine during the peaks in the first wave and the second wave of the pandemic.
These insights into telemedicine usage patterns could be helpful as healthcare providers and officials make critical decisions to combat COVID-19, according to the company.
Demand for general physicians (GPs) and pulmonologists was at an all-time high with young Indians accounting for 50 per cent of all queries
While online consultations for these specialties grew by 30x between April and May 2021, it stood at 6x during the last peak
Users aged 21-30 years comprised 50 per cent of overall online consultations, followed by those between 31 and 40 (22 per cent) and senior citizens (13 per cent).
Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine were among top-consulted queries.
This also included doubts about the COVID-19 vaccines itself and its accompanying side effects like common cold, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and body ache
There was also a 2x increase in late-night consultations.
There was a 10 per cent increase in online consultations among women as compared with the first wave.
According to the report 35 per cent of all consultations were made by women.
This is higher than the number of women consulting during the last peak, when 25 per cent of all COVID-related consultations were initiated by women.
Metros witnessed a 9x growth in Coronavirus-related consultations while online consultations in non-metros grew by 12x.
Metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, and Mumbai accounted for 46 per cent of all Coronavirus-related consultations.
Non-metro cities accounted for 53 per cent of all consultations pertaining to the pandemic during the second wave, maintaining a stable increase from the first wave.
Here, cities like Jaipur, Lucknow, Bhopal, Kanpur, and Chandigarh led with maximum number of consultations.
Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer, Practo, said, “Online consultations have been on a steady rise since the start of COVID-19 pandemic and the demand persists even after the second wave has passed. As the possibility of a third wave looms over, it becomes even more important to make quality healthcare accessible to people when they need it.”
Dr CMA Belliappa, Consultant Medical Director at Practo, and a General Physician with three decades of experience, said, “At a time when hospitals and care delivery units are overwhelmed by the rising number of positive cases, telemedicine can serve as an efficient and effective alternative, saving lives and critical resources like hospital beds.”