Web consultations that were introduced across city hospitals as a stopgap alternative to outpatient departments (OPDs) that nearly stopped functioning post-Covid have turned out to be a surprisingly successful mode of patient-doctor interface. Several leading medics are doing more virtual consultations now than face-to-face ones and the waiting time for a web consultation has climbed up to three-four weeks. Doctors say they are proving to be extremely useful and saving patients the hassle of travel and going through the screening formalities at hospital OPDs which are now perceived risky for elderly patients.
Till March, private hospital doctors would do less than a dozen web consultations a month. Now, each of the leading doctors are doing three-six a day. Fortis Hospital pulmonologist Raja Dhar has been doing six-eight web consultations everyday since April. Patients must wait four weeks for a virtual appointment with Dhar.
“Each is taking around 12-15 minutes while a face-to-face consultation would take around 10 minutes on an average. But we are getting used to it. At present, I am restricting it to follow-up patients. It’s a new experience. But it is working very well and has helped many seek consultation and has kept treatment going,” said Dhar, adding that this will definitely be the norm for at least 6-8 months more and could be a permemanent alternative for follow-up treatment which becomes ‘easy and safe’ through web consulation.
At AMRI Hospitals, a room has been earmarked for web consultations with four ‘chambers’ each with a giant TV screen connected to Internet. Doctors take turns to connect with patients who must log on to the hospital portal and seek appointment after paying the fee online. Appointments can also be sought over phone and by calling doctors on their personal numbers.
With OPD coming to a near halt, web appointments have come as a Godsend for scores of AMRI patients, said AMRI cardiology head PK Hazra. “I do three web consultations everyday and this has been the mainstay of treatment for the last two-and-haf-months. It’s a very convenient mode of interface for follow-up patients who can easily upload their case history on our portal,” said Hazra.
Around 20 doctors at Peerless Hospital are doing web consultations since April. “It’s easy and convenient, especially for follow-up patients. All that patients have to do is go to our website and choose the doctor and the time slot,” said Peerless CEO Sudipta Mitra.
Dhar added that around 40% of his web patients are from other cities. “So far, they would have to travel to the city for a 15-minute consulation and waste a lot of time apart from spending money on transport and accommodation.”
Dhar takes a 20-minute interval between consultations. “It allows me to space out my appointments and patients don’t have to wait unlike at an OPD.”
Source: Times of India