Doctors Without Frontiers
Virtual medicine is coming, but India must stand ready to seize the manifold opportunities. When you hear that someone is unwell, 99% of the time a sick person doesn't need an operation. Technically , 99% of illnesses can be treated online. The treatment decision depends on history which video conferencing will provide, and interpretation of lab and organ image reports which can easily be done virtually .
Today hand held devices can check blood pressure, pulse, saturation, ECG and sugar at home. Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obstructive lung diseases, chronic heart failure, skin diseases, routine cold, cough and fever can easily be managed online.
Geographical barrier is a major limitation for doctors who want to expand their practice. Online healthcare will allow them to treat patients in any part of the world. However, if Indian doctors decide not to adopt technology , it is a matter of time before doctors from Bangladesh or Pakistan will fill the vacuum. Some changes are, therefore, urgently necessary. The Medical Council of India should adopt regulations permitting doctors to offer virtual consultation and legalise virtual prescriptions. According to Indian law a doctor's advice to patients even on telephone a common practice today is illegal unless it is a medical emergency .