New Delhi: The last two years have seen a rapid increase in online doctor consultations, and a study has found that doctors dedicated an additional 62 per cent of their time to consult patients beyond committed hours. The study on this post-Covid shift in doctor consultation patterns was done by Practo ahead of National Doctors’ Day, which is observed on July 1 every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, a renowned physician and the second chief minister of West Bengal.
During the Covid pandemic, doctors on online platforms were found to be spending over six hours a day on average consulting patients.
Dr Dipu TS, Associate Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, told ABP Live that this technology-enabled shift has not only increased healthcare accessibility but also improved the efficiency and effectiveness of care delivery.
“Although in-person visits remain an integral part of healthcare — largely due to the necessity of physical examinations in some cases — we have seen an increase in the adoption of online consultations, particularly for follow-up appointments,” Dr Dipu TS said.
Dr Gopal Sharan of TR Life Sciences opined that the shift has also facilitated remote monitoring of patients with chronic conditions.
With Covid leading to more patients embracing telemedicine, online consultations in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities have grown by over 80 per cent in 2022, as per a study.
This boom has coincided with the number of doctors from Tier 2 cities on the Practo platform rising from 29 per cent in FY 2017 to 47 per cent in FY 2022. Of the overall online consultations, doctors from Tier 2 cities treating patients from Tier 1 cities have gone up drastically from 3 per cent in FY 2017 to 42 per cent in FY 2022.
Dr Sharan said the advent of digital technologies have empowered doctors from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities to overcome geographical limitations. “It has created opportunities for them to reach a wider patient base, enhance their practice, and contribute to improving healthcare access in underserved areas,” he said.
Dr Dipu TS underlined that triage systems can now be automated, and digital tools have facilitated more efficient scheduling, patient record management, and communication, he further said.
However, sounding a note of caution, Dr Dipu pointed out that concerns over medico-legal implications of online consultations, along with the perceived loss of the personal touch in patient care, are notable barriers.
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