COVID-19 has affected almost all industries equally. This is true even for healthcare services. While emergency care and intensive care patients might be higher due to COVID-19 affected patients, all other specialties such as surgery, gynecology, general medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, etc., have seen a sharp decline.

Therefore, it is essential during this time to ensure that all possible means of communication with existing and new patients are kept in place.

Some of the trends seen are:

Patients do not attend their regular appointments or initiate a new appointment due to the fear of being infected at the hospital:
75% of Curie’s survey respondents have not visited a doctor during this pandemic and this trend is true on a larger scale as well. Patients are increasingly more hesitant to visit a doctor unless in cases of an emergency where they cannot avoid a visit.
This proves to have a negative effect on both doctors as well as the patient. Long periods of missed appointments and lack of new appointments have detrimental effects on the health of the patients in general and also affect the livelihood of the doctors.
One effective way to tackle this shortfall is to ensure teleconsultation services are provided by all health care professionals and all patients are encouraged to attend their regular visits online. This improves communication between doctor and patient, improves the trust and loyalty of the patient on the doctor, and also reduce the absenteeism of patients during appointments.
Post teleconsultation, if any physical visit is required, it can be done so at a later point in time. This will drastically increase the number of patients keeping up with their regular appointments and new patients might be referred by satisfied regulars.

Most doctors in India do not offer teleconsultations

A lack of awareness and conviction about teleconsultations is still widely prevalent amongst the medical fraternity. If the majority of the specialists around India go online, the scope of being able to cater to people from all walks of life and all areas of the society is limitless.
In Curie’s survey, the majority of the patients said that their regular doctors do not offer teleconsultations. This is alarming because almost ALL these respondents are willing to try teleconsultation. If this trend continues, we can be assured to see more patients including your regular clientele gravitating towards doctors or hospitals that offer such convenient services.

Common reasons for the inacceptance of telemedicine

• Misconceptions that a teleconsultation is ineffective: with more number of services right from groceries, food, beauty salons and even taxis going online, the next big thing is offering health services online. The effectiveness of these consultations are proved by the number of people who would prefer teleconsultations to physical visits right after trying it out once!
• Need for physical tests or examinations: A doctor can always book another appointment for these as and when required, reducing the time spent by both doctor and patient and reducing waiting times.

• The need for high-end gadgets: teleconsultations can work in a simple smartphone and no elaborate set up needs to be purchased to initiate these.
• Payments: A lot of doctors are hesitant as they think that obtaining a fee from patients would be difficult. In Curie’s teleconsultation app, the appointment is only confirmed after the fee is paid, enabling you to be sure that your fees are honored.
• Cost of teleconsultation platforms: At Curie, a doctor can enjoy optimum benefits at Rs.6000 (+GST) annually to subscribe to the mobile app. Curie also does not charge doctors for any appointments that are new or old. Therefore, total transparency helps to keep costs low and yield the best rewards.

Take home points for doctors:

• Up to 90% of your clinical practices’ income comes from your existing clientele. Therefore, it is best to retain these patients and ensure they attend your appointments and visits at least online.
• Telemedicine is here to stay. Even post COVID-19, International researchers and medical professionals have confirmed that telemedicine will be the future of healthcare.
• Encouraging your regular patients to keep up with their appointments and come for reviews, use the help of a software to send regular reminders.
• Improve the visibility of your practice by taking it online. This will help retain existing clients and increase the number of new ones.
• Download the Curie connect app and get started on your telemedicine journey!

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