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Telehealth and Telemedicine: Everything You Need to Know

  • Highlights

  • Telemedicine is the practice of consulting patients remotely

  • Telehealth covers health-related services and telemedicine

  • Telemedicine and telehealth reduces the risk of contagious diseases

  • Avail offers on telemedicine with the Digital Health EMI Network Card

Telemedicine in simple terms means the process of online doctor consultation. It refers to remote evaluation, diagnosis and treatment using telecommunications technology. When modern healthcare providers offer a doctor on call, chat or video or an e-consultation service, you are witnessing telemedicine in action. What is tele health, then? Telehealth encompasses telemedicine, which is a subset and a distinct area of tele health. Telehealth refers to the remote provision of healthcare and is not restricted to remote clinical services rendered to patients.

Now that you know what is telemedicine, let’s understand its scope and usefulness in India. In a country of about 138 crore individuals with an insufficient doctor-to-population ratio and unequal distribution of medical services across demographics, telehealth has a major role to play. In September 2005, the National Telemedicine Taskforce was set up in India, making way for various telehealth initiatives.

Today, the country is home to telemedicine projects such as the linking of urban and rural hospitals, mammography and oncology services, online GP consultation services and more. Reports show that telemedicine has expanded in India in the recent past and the National Health Stack envisions having digital health records of all Indian citizens by 2022.

However poor infrastructure, particularly the low-quality of internet connectivity across geographical locations, still remains a barrier to the flourishing of telemedicine in India. Once internet penetration improves, India can take full advantage of telehealth solutions based on the internet of things.

Telemedicine vs. Telehealth: What’s the Difference?

Telemedicine pertains to the remote delivery of healthcare services and, here, distance is a crucial factor. Telehealth is broader in scope and includes the delivery and facilitation of health and health-related services. Telemedicine benefits individuals, communities, and healthcare providers as well. The benefits of telehealth include those of telemedicine and encompass fields like health information services and self-care as well.

A post-operation follow-up or a patient sending a picture of an injured leg to a doctor are examples of telemedicine. Telehealth services include those of telemedicine and also the likes of a virtual multi-doctor training session.

How Does Telehealth System Work?

The telehealth system leverages technology in its various formats, including audio, video, and text, to enhance the traditional healthcare system. Understandably, not everything can be treated via a digital medium. However, telehealth is useful for a range of issues such as:

  • Diagnosing colds, headaches, digestive problems, etc.

  • Advice on home treatments

  • Post-op treatment and follow-ups

  • Monitoring blood pressure/ sugar levels

  • Providing medical services to remote areas

  • Access to preventive care services

Telehealth technology for patients may involve nothing more than having access to a smartphone or computer with an internet connection. However, on the other hand, doctors may require a suite of other software to facilitate their telehealth services.

In India, you can avail telehealth services from an increasing number of doctors and hospitals. Here are 2 ways in which you can understand the working of the telemedicine system.

As per the timing of the interaction

  • Synchronous: Involves real-time exchange of information through video, audio or text, for diagnosis, medication, counselling and health education.

  • Asynchronous: Involves exchange and re-access of information at any point of time and can include data such as lab reports, images, and radiological investigations.

As per the purpose of the consultation

  • First consult: Your primary consultation with a registered medical practitioner for diagnosis, treatment, health education or counselling

  • Follow-up: A follow-up consultation pertaining to an ongoing/previous treatment.

Role of Telehealth and Telemedicine during a Pandemic

The importance of telehealth services has become vital in a time of pandemic because among the benefits of telehealth is the elimination of the risk of contagion. In the context of COVID-19, telemedicine removes the risk of exposure to the virus. It protects healthcare workers and patients alike. So, unnecessary and avoidable exposure can be eliminated via a telehealth visit as opposed to a physical visit to the doctor.

Moreover, telemedicine provides swift access to doctors when in-person or hospital visits are not possible. Importantly, telemedicine frees up hands, space, and beds at hospitals. Understanding the vast array of telemedicine benefits during the pandemic, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare rolled out telemedicine guidelines on 25 March, 2020.

Telehealth and Telemedicine Offers for Health EMI Card Customers

The Bajaj Finserv Digital Health EMI Network Card makes telemedicine and telehealth services easy to access. The card offers special limited-period discounts and deals on tele-consultation and telehealth services that can be accessed by the cardholders via the Bajaj Finserv Wallet app. It allows patients to choose from 800+ treatments from over 5500 medical institutions at 1000+ cities in India. Making healthcare affordable, it helps patients pay for their treatments on No Cost EMIs which can be spread over a tenor of up to 24 months. Offering a pre-approved limit up to Rs. 4 lakh, the card gets activated instantly in just 5 minutes.

Some telemedicine offers that are currently active on the Health EMI Network Card are-

Partner Category Offer Valid till
Skin City Hair restoration and cosmetic surgery 20% off on cosmetic procedures + free online consultation 30-09-2020
Apollo 24|7 Multi-speciality hospital Rs. 150 off on tele-consultation booking worth up to Rs 1000. Use Code BAJAJ150

Rs. 247 off on tele-consultation booking worth above Rs 1000. Use code: BAJAJ247

If you don’t yet have a digital health card, you can get it now in just 3 clicks.

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