Telemedicine during COVID-19 - eyeSmart EMR
Telemedicine over the years has been used to cater to remote communities who are unable to access care. With the NEW NORMAL in the COVID-19 era, this modality has increasingly gained popularity. With the new rules of Social Distancing, hospitals will take time to come up to capacity as well which will require them to adopt the model of Telemedicine actively. Telemedicine is provided in two ways, Synchronous (the consult happens in real time) and Asynchronous (where the consult happens sequentially). Either of the modality can be adopted as per relevance.
The various components of Telemedicine are listed below. All of these components are possible only on an Electronic Medical Record system. The integration of these processes is crucial to also adhere to the National Telemedicine Guidelines published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. The Telemedicine Society of India also provides training courses and a certification is required before you start providing services to your patients. Consent has to be taken from the patients as per the guidelines before the Teleconsult is provided. The Telemedicine can be provided with through Phone Call, Video Call, App, Whatsapp or SMS. This is again dependent on many factors such as Digital Literacy of both the patient and the doctor, availability of smart devices, information about the provision of these services and connectivity issues. When the nation wide lockdown was announced on March 22nd, L V Prasad Eye Institute rapidly adapted to the changing scenario of patient care and implemented protocols using eyeSmart EMR. The biggest benefit of using Electronic Medical Records is to be able to have the right information at the right time to enable the right advice for our patients. The EMR system enabled effective communications with all the patients with upcoming appointments to be informed of the changes in the system. We have quickly put in place various simple protocols using Google Form and Google Sheets to track the Telemedicine consults. With this modality of integrating into the EMR, we have till date provide over 14,000 teleconsults using the eyeSmart EMR system. We had published our initial experience of the same in the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology (IJO) in May 2020. The complete article can be accessed and downloaded at this Link - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32461415/
Telemedicine has seen renewed interest across the World in this current time of crisis. Access to the patients is of utmost importance to enable continuity of care. It is important to also understand the limitations of the system. We cannot perform other parts of the ocular examination and visual acuity and IOP measurements in new patients. A significant number of follow up patients benefit from this system. We are able to answer queries related to medication and also follow up on surgical patients as well as we had access to their clinical history because of Electronic Medical Records. As we all now prepare for the NEW NORMAL, we need to adopt and adapt and embrace new modalities of providing of patient care services to our patients. The varying nature of the lock-downs in various parts of the country will definitely affect the rate of patient footfalls and we need to be available for them to approach them virtually if not physically.
Onboarding onto Digital Systems in this time will truly be beneficial in the long run!
Wishing everyone the very best as we all navigate this NEW NORMAL and Stay Safe!
Team eyeSmart EMR
L V Prasad Eye Institute