From organically grown vegetables to a variety of supplements, the internet puts healthy food choices within easy reach. Even the purists would agree that the quality of such products brought from online portals is usually top notch. Fitness trackers are now ubiquitous and reflect the desire on the part of consumers to take control of one’s own health and wellness.
Search engines today readily give you enough health information to make a visit to the doctor seem rather unnecessary.
Richa Sharma, a 27 year old archaeologist based in New Delhi, injures herself on an expedition to the Thar desert in Rajasthan. Her team’s supplies run out following days of bad weather and inhospitable terrain. Richa’s condition deteriorates alarming her colleagues who knew that there was no time to lose. They decided to terminate the expedition and radio headquarters for emergency medical evacuation.
Due to an impending cyclone, the area had been declared unsafe for aircraft. Richa’s team start to look for alternatives. Just then, one of them realized that they could utilize a telemedicine service which would virtually bring the doctor to them and save them previous time.
In a vast country like India, availing medical care is often contingent on reaching a primary care centre on time. This is especially true of rural areas with poor roads and inadequate infrastructure. The United Nations says that India suffers an abysmal doctor to patient ratio of 1:921.
This means that there are not enough doctors for millions of patients who have to brave long distances and wait for hours to get medical attention. Like Richa, thousands of rural patients have no recourse even when battling life threatening illnesses. Most primary care centres, particularly in North and Central India, are ill-equipped to handle medical emergencies.
They routinely refer patients to larger hospitals located in faraway cities. The journey is often excruciatingly long and the fate of many is decided by the speed with which their families can get them to the nearest hospital.
Technology is a great leveller. With the advent of the internet, remote corners of the world are witnessing a quiet revolution. Telemedicine technology has enabled the underprivileged denizens of far flung villages to consult specialists at some of the country’s top hospitals.
With rural electrification being undertaken on a national scale, the quality of healthcare has registered a quantum jump. Doctor’s can now diagnose disease, review medical histories and even perform remote surgeries using the latest technology.
Today, Richa is as healthy as ever. Having led more than 12 archaeological expeditions, she has recover from heat strokes and infections on the field. On more than one occasion, she has also use e-consulting to bring relief to her team members suffering from more serious injuries.
Richa is a firm believer in universal healthcare. She is actively involved in creating awareness about the benefits of telemedicine for rural communities that do not have the means or the reach to access quality healthcare.
In bigger cities, telemedicine can be a boon to patients who are indisposed or elderly individuals who are unable to travel to a clinic on a routine basis. A number of hospitals in India offer telemedicine services that eliminate time lost in transit and provide much better quality of treatment at an affordable cost.
As technology continues its march, the field of medicine is poised to enter a new era. The cost of delivering quality healthcare is also likely to reduce significantly as a result. Healthcare that transcends the boundaries of space and time once existed only in the realm of science fiction. Today, it is as common as a laptop with an internet connection!