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What is Telehealth? | How Does it Impact the Healthcare System in India?

Since the past two years, Covid-19 has forced us all to adjust to the ‘new normal’. Be it lifestyle changes or exploring new ways to facilitate healthcare, we have seen it all. With this, the world of telehealth services has seen a spike due to the unprecedented demands that the country has seen. Undoubtedly, telehealth has become a major part of the healthcare system in India today.

Before we move any further, let’s shed some light on what exactly constitutes ‘Telehealth’. Ideally, telehealth refers to the delivery of healthcare services, health-related information, patient education, etc., to remote locations with technology as the medium.

Telehealth in India: The Demand-Supply Roadway

While telehealth is not a new concept, the industry saw a rise in tele-healthcare services in India during the pandemic. What was the reason behind this sudden boom? Was it necessity that drove the demands, or were there other factors involved? 

With insights from the McKinsey Report, 2021, we explore a few components that made the change possible:

  1. Change in Consumer Attitude Towards Tele-Healthcare Services in India

The country has seen a spike in consumers demanding and accepting more online services since the pandemic. Be it grocery shopping or medicine delivery, people are moving towards the use of online platforms throughout. Now, this could also be due to the fear of the virus. However, even when the effects of the virus were controlled, people did prefer telehealth services for primary care. 

  1. Paradigm Shift in Provider Attitude Towards Telehealth Services

Every industry thrives on the foundation of a demand-supply system. Telehealth, too, saw an increase in provider services to meet the rising consumer demands. This swift and quality-driven shift was made by both existing players and the newcomers of the healthcare system in India. Every provider made sure that consumer demands at met at in record time, with quality and affordability being the major driving factors. More and more doctors took up teleconsultations during the pandemic, and continue to do so even today. This was facilitated by the introduction of the “Telemedicine Practice Guidelines, 2020” by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

While clause 1.3.1 of the Guidelines entitle registered medical practitioners to provide teleconsultation and telemedicine services to patients across India, clause 1.4.1 allows the use of suitable technology-based consultation services via calls, videos, and texts through various social media platforms. 

  1. The Boom in Investor Interest

Along with demand and supply, a key player who gets the boat rowing is the investor. In 2020 alone, the health tech industry in India witnessed seven merger and acquisition deals that were worth more than 350 million dollars. Adding to this, health-tech investments in the country saw a rise of 34 deals as compared to only 11 deals in 2017. (Source: Statista)

The rise in investor interests will help many startups that have entered the space and have excellent work models but have not been able to penetrate the industry due to the lack of funds.

The Way Forward: Potential of Telehealth in India

If current trends are anything to go by, tele-healthcare services in India are the future of healthcare. The rise in teleconsultation services, virtual emergency visits, and prompt ambulance services have led to an accessible and affordable healthcare system, that has the bandwidth to also cater to the needs of rural India. 

When used in a planned manner, telehealth services have the potential to revolutionize the entire healthcare system in India. Whether it is during Covid-19 or post the pandemic, telehealth and its subsets are what we need for sustainable, accessible, and affordable healthcare in both rural and urban areas of India. 

At Medpho, we have understood consumer concerns and the need to adapt to sustainable technological aspects. In line with this, Medpho has launched a helpline number that can connect you to our medical and healthcare experts on #BasEkCall. Avail our healthcare services, call us on 88569-88569.

 

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