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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 10-12

Health system strengthening during COVID-19 pandemic through virtual out-patient clinics: An experience from India

1 Department of Community Medicine, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
2 Chief Executive Officer, Jiyyo Innovations, Chandigarh, India
3 Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sudip Bhattacharya
Department of Community Medicine, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jphpc.jphpc_9_20

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Whenever any pandemic accelerates, e.g., the corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19), it is commonly observed that health care systems face tremendous workload in terms of infectious patients seeking testing and care. During such public health emergencies, besides logistics, there is shortage of trained personnel. In this COVID-19 pandemic Government of India is doing its level best for minimizing the impact of COVID-19. Multiple stringent measures are already taken like nationwide lockdown, social distancing, in hospitals-closing of out-patient services, postponement of elective surgeries, creating dedicated COVID-19 treatment hospital, one third of health staff is working on rotation basis and many more, for prevention of COVID-19 and minimizing the impact. Despite of this, the looming communication gap between people living in remote areas and the specialist doctors has always been in the picture. Due to COVID-19, as most of the routine OPDs are closed it is it has become very tough for people specially who have chronic diseases to consult their doctor. In this scenario artificial intelligence enabled Virtual OPD (VOPD) can be boon to the Indian population. The existing problems related to lack of access to OPD care for a major proportion of population can be solved by some extent by virtual OPD care services, in which patients consult with doctors in a virtual platform via mobile phone, computer and other e-devices. It is supposed to offer a number of advantages over traditional medical consultations in terms of convenience and cost. First and foremost, leverage of video consultation is “Therapeutic presence” that it is reassuring for the patients when they see doctor on video. The second advantage is that it helps in diagnostic assessment of the patients. Not only virtual OPDs solve the issues of delays and self-medication. This not only give benefit of availing the service as per the convenience but also provides the utmost medical consultation directly from the expertise. Alongside, the waiting period of minimum 3-4 hours can be reduced by simply audio-video consultations. It becomes easy to generate electronic prescription and can be emailed. However, evidence of clinical outcomes of VOPD is limited in Indian context. Furthermore, if integrated smartly into existing health care systems, VOPD care have the potential to manage the problem caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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