Bengaluru: Amid the coronavirus outbreak, a board vested with the powers of the Medical Council of India, consultation with Niti Aayog, has advised medical practitioners to use telemedicine while providing healthcare saying it can prevent transmission of infectious diseases and reduce the risks to both healthcare workers and patients.

The guidelines, outlining that telemedicine provides safety of patients, as well as health workers safety especially in situations where there is risk of contagious infections and it can be conducted without exposing staff to viruses or infections in the times of such outbreaks.

There are a number of technologies that can be used in telemedicine, which can help patients adhere better to their medication regimens and manage their diseases better, authorities said. 

"Disasters and pandemics pose unique challenges to providing healthcare. Though telemedicine will not solve them all, it is well suited for scenarios in which medical practitioners can evaluate and manage patients.

"Telemedicine practice can prevent the transmission of infectious diseases reducing the risks to both health care workers and patients. Unnecessary and avoidable exposure of the people involved in delivery of healthcare can be avoided using telemedicine and patients can be screened remotely," a release said.

"It can provide rapid access to medical practitioners who may not be immediately available in person. In addition, it makes available extra working hands to provide physical care at the respective health institutions. Thus, health systems that are invested in telemedicine are well positioned to ensure that patients with COVID-19 kind of issues receive the care they need," it said.

The Telemedicine Practice Guidelines stated that in India, providing in-person healthcare is challenging, particularly given the large geographical distances and limited resources.

One of the major advantages of telemedicine can be for saving of cost and effort especially of rural patients, as they need not travel long distances for obtaining consultation and treatment, the release added. 

In this type of scenario, telemedicine can provide an optimal solution for not just providing timely and faster access. It would also reduce financial costs associated with travel. It also reduces the inconvenience/impact to family and caregivers and social factors, the guidelines said.

Telemedicine can play a particularly important role in cases where there is no need for the patient to physically see the registered medical practitioner (or other medical professional), e.g. for regular, routine check-ups or continuous monitoring, the board said, adding telemedicine can reduce the burden on the secondary hospitals.

With telemedicine, there is higher likelihood of maintenance of records and documentation hence minimalises the likelihood of missing out advice from the doctor other health care staff, it said.

(With inputs from PTI)