covid-19: Telemedicine takes spotlight in season of flu

BENGALURU: As the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 continues to rise in India, telemedicine or online consultation has become the first point of contact for many who suspect they’ve contracted the disease. Companies such as Practo, 1mg, Medlife, mFine and a few others are reporting a several-fold increase in online consultations for a flu or fever-related ailments.

The increased need to seek a professional medical diagnosis along with a feeling that hospitals could be a point of contact with a person infected with the coronavirus is leading to this boom in telemedicine. Such a trend isn’t only restricted to India, as the rest of the world too sees telemedicine at the frontlines of tackling the spread of the virus.

“There is a clear trend towards e-consultations, and people do not want to go to crowded healthcare facilities like hospitals, clinics, labs, pharmacies, etc., perhaps due to fear of infections there,” 1mg founder and chief executive Prashant Tandon said. “People who would typically not seek a doctor for a mild fever, even they now want to be absolutely sure they get professional advice.”

Since the beginning of March, 1mg said, it had seen a 300% increase in e-consultations for flu and fever-related ailments. These calls were coming from across the country – about 600 cities and towns – and not just from the large metros where penetration of telemedicine has been higher.

Practo, another large player in the online doctor-consultation space, said it saw a spike in telemedicine calls a few weeks ahead of the first confirmed Covid-19 case in India.

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