Telemedicine, a shot in the arm for healthcare access to people in interiors
Telemedicine has led to a 45 per cent reduction in mortality rates in rural India: WHO
Telemedicine, which uses technology to provide remote healthcare services, has been gaining in popularity because of a multitude of reasons, especially for its resourcefulness.
In India, a highly populous country with limited access to quality healthcare, telemedicine is revolutionizing the way people obtain consultations and treatment. As it is, the country faces numerous challenges in providing accessible healthcare to over 1.3 billion people.
With a scarcity of doctors, especially in rural areas, and the high costs and inconveniences associated with traveling long distances for check-ups and treatment, many people struggle to receive timely and adequate healthcare services. Telemedicine offers a solution as it effectively bridges the gap between patients and healthcare providers, enabling remote consultations, and reducing the burden on physical infrastructure.
The telemedicine industry in India has witnessed exponential growth in recent years. According to a report by RedSeer Consulting, the Indian telemedicine market is expected to reach a value of $ 5.5 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 31 per cent from 2020. This surge can be attributed to several factors, including increased internet penetration, smartphone adoption, and policy support from the government. As of 2021, India had over 624 million internet users and more than 820 million smartphone users. This widespread connectivity has enabled people from even remote areas to access telemedicine services, bringing healthcare within the reach for millions.
Talking to Bizz Buzz, Devashish Singh, co-founder and CEO of MrMed, points out, “India has seen the emergence of numerous telemedicine startups, leveraging technology to provide affordable and accessible healthcare services. Startups like Practo, mfine, MrMed and 1mg have gained traction and garnered significant investments.”
These platforms connect patients from anywhere in the country with doctors, enable online medicine delivery and offer comprehensive
health packages, thereby contributing to the growth of the telemedicine ecosystem. Platforms like MrMed have reached more than 15,000 customers from approximately 2,000 cities and delivered lifesaving medicines to them.
The platforms help the patients to choose from vast options from the pool of online pharmacies based on what they expect. For instance,
Netmeds and 1mg promises same day delivery of medicines, whereas MrMed offers huge discounts on speciality medicines and communicates transparently about Patient Assistance Program offers from manufacturers, he added. The Union government has recognized the potential of telemedicine in improving healthcare accessibility and has taken proactive steps to
promote its adoption. In 2020, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released Telemedicine Practice Guidelines, providing a regulatory framework for tele-consultations and ensuring patient privacy and data security. These guidelines have encouraged healthcare providers to embrace telemedicine and expand their services.
Telemedicine has made a profound impact on healthcare delivery in rural areas, where medical resources are scarce. Through tele-consultations, patients in remote villages can connect with doctors in urban centres and receive timely diagnosis and treatment.
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that telemedicine in India had led to a 45 per cent reduction in mortality rates in rural areas, highlighting its life-saving potential.
Telemedicine has also facilitated access to specialized medical expertise for patients across the country. Through virtual consultations, patients can seek opinions from renowned specialists located in metropolitan cities, bypassing the need for expensive travel and long waiting times. This has particularly benefited individuals with chronic illnesses and those requiring expert opinions for complex medical conditions. Telemedicine is transforming healthcare delivery in India by overcoming barriers of distance, time, and cost. The industry's rapid growth has bolstered healthcare access to millions living in the interiors. As telemedicine continues to evolve, leveraging emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and remote monitoring, it holds tremendous potential to revolutionize the healthcare landscape and enhance the well-being of people across India.