News Correspondent, abptakmaa, Kolkata, 26th Apr 2020 : Fortis Healthcare, India’s leading healthcare solutions provider, successfully rolled out online consultations for patients in 23 hospitals across the network in India. As the country continues with COVID 19 lockdown, the step was conceived to continue patient care services without risking the health of patients or doctors. Both tele-consults as well as video consult services have been running successfully with encouraging response from patients.
Dr Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, Managing Director & CEO, Fortis Healthcare said, “E-consultations are being organized to ensure the continuity of care for post-surgical upcountry patients. For example, a patient from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar who has undergone a CABG can follow up with their surgeon to confirm that all recovery milestones are being met. Patients who have a disease which requires periodic monitoring (for example – a senior citizen with diabetes and/or hypertension) can share the values with his doctor via an e-consult and discuss if the parameters are okay. Expectant mothers can share their general health progress with their obstetrician, restricting in-hospital visits to single digits to protect against COVID 19 and possible transmission to the fetus.”
Till date, over 8000 consults have taken place via the e-consulting medium. A total of 393 e-consults were conducted across the network on 25th April and 365 were done on 24th April. Fortis Hospital in Mohali saw the maximum number of e-consults at 1539 followed by Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI) in Gurgaon at 1330; followed by Fortis Hospital, BG Road in Bengaluru with 1117 consultations since the start of this service. Fortis Hospital in NOIDA at 537 and Fortis Hospital in Mulund in Mumbai at 290 e-consults has seen witnessing encouraging trend. The online consults take place during the regular OPD hours at normal OPD rates. The doctors from specialties like Neurology, Gynecology, Gastroenterology, Rheumatology, Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, Nephrology, ENT, Mental Health and Internal Medicine are providing online consultations as of now.
Fortis is offering telemedicine or video consults where patients are unable to visit the hospital. However, emergency cases and where clinicians feel the necessity to physically examine the patient are not given consultation via telemedicine. A video or telemedicine consult can never be compared to a normal in-hospital consult where the doctor is able to physically examine the patient. Some of beneficiary patients of e-consults are those who need continuity of care post-surgical residing far from the hospitals, patients with chronic disease management with a requirement of periodic monitoring as well as pregnant ladies for minimum exposure to a vulnerable external environment.
Details of the process:
- Both audio consults and video consults are enabled by the MicroSoft Teams platform. In some cases, simple telephonic consults are also happening depending on the comfort of the patients
- Through the Fortis website or call center, patients can request for an e-consult. For those with the ‘myFortis’ application, a push notification is sent with a link to book e-consults
- A landing page has been created on the website which helps patients choose their hospital and specialty. They are then contacted by the call center and an e-appointment is booked. The payment link is sent via SMS to the patient
- The agent from the respective hospital then uses the internal enterprise collaboration tool (MS Teams) to book a e-consultation between the doctor and the patient. The e-meeting link is sent through the invite and the platform also sends out appointment reminders to both patient and doctor
- At the stipulated time, patient joins the meeting by accessing the link in the invite as a guest user using camera enabled device and waits for the turn in virtual lobby
- Once the doctor arrives at the e-meeting, the patient is allowed into the meeting and e-consultation is provided in keeping with the guidelines issued by the Ministry Of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW).
- Post consultation the prescription is uploaded on the platform which can be downloaded by the patient and a copy is sent via email to his/her email address
Dr Ashutosh Raghuvanshi adds, “In our endeavor to sustain our fight against the spread of COVID19, we are bringing the expertise of our doctors to help you with any health issues right in the comfort of your home. As the proactive lockdown was necessary to fight off this pandemic, it must not be an excuse to delay any health consultations that our patients wanted to avail and, hence, is this solution. We believe that this is going to be helpful for patients as well as their families without risking the much-needed social distancing for the patients, doctors and the healthcare staff. However, in emergency cases where clinicians feel it is necessary to physically examine the patient, e-consultations are not given. In those cases, an in-hospital consult where the doctor can do a physical examine is suggested. These are cases which require immediate and urgent medical intervention.”
A wide scale training has been conducted to train and familiarize doctors as well as support staff with the platform and troubleshoot the teething issues. The patient can call the hospital board line, visit the website or use my Fortis application to request a call-back. Then a link is shared with the appointment time and preferred mode of interaction (video or telephone). SMS and WhatsApp’s have also been shared with the patient database to help them book a tele or video consults via the link – https://bit.ly/2Xw66xC