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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 32-35

Telemedicine in the era of COVID-19: The East and the West

1 Prof, Department of Community Medicine, AFMC, Pune, Maharashtra, India
2 Chief Medical Officer, Consultant (Full Time) THDC India Ltd, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
3 Prof, Department of Public Health, California State University, Long Beach, California, USA

Correspondence Address:
Col Maninder Pal Singh Pardal
DADH, HQ 41 Artillery Division, PIN 908441, C/o 56 APO, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmms.jmms_86_20

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Introduction: Telemedicine implies the application of clinical medicine by telephone, internet, or any other such networks for the purpose of consulting or performing various examinations or medical procedures. The present pandemic of COVID-19 is the ideal time to evolve telemedicine and increase its utilization for the well-being of humankind. Historical Background: Electrocardiogram transmission over telephone lines is the oldest record of telemedicine in the first half of the 20th century. Teleradiology commenced in India in 1996. The National Telemedicine Taskforce was set up by the Government of India, in 2005. The Arizona State Legislature established the Arizona Telemedicine Program in 1996. Medical devices to capture images were developed in the 1990s. Present Scenario in the East: Besides implementing various national-level projects, India has extended telemedicine services to South Asian and African countries. The Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation has grown to 115 centers, including 9 overseas. Recently, the Government of India has launched telemedicine solutions in the form of Social Endeavour for Health and Telemedicine and eSanjeevani. Comprehensive guidelines on telemedicine have also been issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian Navy is in the process of establishing teleconsultation centers on board several ships, submarines, remote locations, islands, and naval hospitals. Present Scenario in the West: Telestroke is the largest care provider for patients with stroke in the country. The field of dermatology is particularly suited for telemedicine. Telemedicine at sea is an integral part of rescue procedures. One of the fundamental components of medical assistance at sea is the Telemedical Maritime Assistance Service. Socioethical and Legal Considerations: Legal and regulatory measures will be a challenge with the rapidly spreading telemedicine network. Conflicting laws of different nations are some of the other legal issues in telemedicine. There exists an urgent need for specific legislation on telemedicine in India. In the USA, telemedicine covers various legal and regulatory issues at the state and federal levels. Limitations: Limited reimbursement or restrictions on reimbursement from insurance providers, quality of the patient–physician relationship, the quality of the examination, and the quality of care are a few barriers to telemedicine. The social limitation is probably the biggest limitation of telehealth. Conclusion: Despite several barriers, telehealth has shown remarkable growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. India with its large medical and IT manpower and expertise is emerging as a global leader in the field of telemedicine. The COVID-19 pandemic has made telemedicine more relevant than ever.

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