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Last Updated : Mar 20, 2020 06:21 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Coronavirus pandemic | Telemedicine startups eyeing government backing

Founders are forming an industry level body to offer all help to the government in this crisis and also press for the need to frame operational guidelines for this sector.

Representative image
Representative image

With the coronavirus outbreak putting telemedicine platforms in the spotlight, startups in this space are hoping to use this opportunity to press forward the need for concrete guidelines for this sector.

Platforms like Mfine, DocsApp and Practo have come together through a body to coordinate with government and medical bodies and help keep patients who do not need critical care away from hospitals while ensuring all their medical needs are taken care of.

There are also suggestions around helping government manage the hotline number for coronavirus-related enquiries.

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"We are trying to use this opportunity to bring players in this space together and approach the government to encourage adoption of telemedicine among citizens," said Prasad Kompalli, co-founder, Mfine.

The platform has seen 3,000 cases in the past 10 days. Mfine has 250 hospitals in its network which Kompalli expects could jump by 100 in the next couple of months, given the inbound queries they have received.

Practo is urging even government hospitals to come onboard. These platforms can act as a screening tool and prevent overcrowding at healthcare facilities. Teleconsultations on Practo has doubled over the last few days.

There seems to be a change in mindset of the government as well as the hospital management towards remote consultations.

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Even the Prime Minister in his televised address to the nation on March 19 asked patients who do not need critical treatment to seek guidance from their family physicians over telephone.

"We are having conversations with officials of the Karnataka government on what kind of solutions we can provide and how can we help them deal with this entire issue," said Satish Kannan, co-founder of DocsApp.

The need at this point is to bring out an industry level proposal and impress upon the government the importance of these platforms. Telemedicine was mainly conceived to bring rural patients within the fold of mainstream treatment through technology. In times of the pandemic, it has become relevant even for urban patients scared of stepping out of their homes.

"While coronavirus outbreak demands that the scope of telemedicine be expanded, it is equally important to ensure that the change is not temporary. It is important to have sound policy and regulations in place so as to ensure that the service and quality standards are not compromised," said a Practo spokesperson.

This sector has faced many operational challenges, primarilty that of a lack of clear legal backing for telemedicine. Many doctors and hospitals have shied away from partnering with these platforms in the past due to the above mentioned issue.

Founders are hoping to solve those issues now and drive home the point the importance and relevance of remote consultations.

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First Published on Mar 20, 2020 06:14 pm
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