e-Newsletter January 2022

Telehealth Newsletter

Official Newsletter of Tamil Nadu Chapter of Telemedicine Society of India

What is New?

The Omicron wave is yet another reminder that the uncertainty of this pandemic continues to haunt us but now with tele-health ecosystem getting established, the challenges are less in managing and providing care.

The importance of telemedicine for Indian healthcare sector was further stressed by our Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh says and he said ‘Tele-medicine Technology is going to be the Main Pillar of India’s Future Health Care System.’

The Consultation Paper on Proposed Health Data Retention Policy that opened out the discussion and asked for suggestions and Recommendations last month was an interesting exercise. We from Tamil Nadu & NCR Chapter of Telemedicine Society of India sent our recommendations to the National Health Authority. It makes interesting reading hence we have enclosed it in the newsletter.

Thank You
Dr. Sunil Shroff
Chief Editor
President – TN Chapter – TSI


Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh says, Tele-medicine technology is going to be the main pillar of India’s future health care system


Highlights:

  • Dr Jitendra Singh launches Tele-digital Health Pilot Program at BHU, Varanasi
  • The project starting in three districts of Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Kamjong in Manipur will cover 60,000 patients in the initial phase
  • Minister says, project to generate Electronic Health Record (EHR) for Indian population
  • Tele-medicine could save India between 4-5 billion US dollars every year: Dr Jitendra Singh

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today said that Tele-medicine technology is going to be the main pillar of India’s future health care system.

Launching the Tele-Digital Healthcare Pilot Program at BHU, Varanasi, Dr Jitendra Singh said, innovative healthcare solutions like Tele-medicine could save India between 4-5 billion US dollars every year and replace half of in-person outpatient consultations. The Minister said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital Health Mission is the next frontier to ensure healthcare delivery is accessible, available, and affordable to all, particularly the poor living in rural and inaccessible terrain. He said, Telemedicine in the country has proven to be cost effective by about 30% less than equivalent in-person visits.

Dr Jitendra Singh said that though Telemedicine technology was in vogue for quite some time in the country, but it got a fillip in post-COVID era and in the wake of PM Modi’s push to Digital Health Ecosystem in India.

Referring to Drone delivery of vaccines in some parts of India, the Minister said, with rapid advancement in technology, Robotic Surgery will also become a reality very soon and future doctors will increasing don the mettle of Tele-Doctors.

Pointing out to very low doctor-patient ratio in India that is about one per 1,457 Indian citizens, Dr Jitendra Singh said, Tele-medicine is no longer an option but a necessity. He said, about 65 percent of India’s population that lives in rural villages, where the doctor-patient ratio is as low as one doctor per 25,000 citizens and therefore they must get best of medical advice from doctors based in towns and metropolitan cities. He said, Telemedicine will not only help the patients save their time and money, but also the doctors who can quickly assist their patients over a call for the same and actively engage in promptly treating patients with major ailments.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, the project starting in three districts of Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Kamjong in Manipur will cover 60,000 patients in the initial phase and it will be scaled up gradually to cover the entire country in the coming years. Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), an autonomous body of Department of Science and Technology at the Centre has designed a pilot Tele-diagnostics project in collaboration with IIT Madras-Pravartak Foundation Technologies & CDAC Mohali. This will also generate Electronic Health Record (EHR) for Indian population.

The Minister said, the project is a scalable pilot PLUG and PLAY model oriented to provide quality medical care to underprivileged women and children living in remote areas at affordable costs. The key activities include examination of the patients: women/ children with wearable devices, transferring the health data record through the e-sanjeevani cloud to a pool of doctors for analysis, and concurrently for development of EHR. The parameters that would be analysed include: ECG, Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, Lipid Profile, Haemoglobin & Foetal Doppler.

It may be recalled that Dr Jitendra Singh has established tele-consultation facility in his Lok Sabha Constituency of Udhampur-Kathua-Doda from his MP-LAD Fund, in the District Hospital Udhampur with all the Panchayats connected with it and it is being monitored on a regular basis.

Dr Jitendra Singh said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given very high priority to the Health Sector and this year’s budget increased the spending on healthcare by 137%, which is in line with industry expectations of 2.5%-3% of the GDP. The Minister informed that India will spend Rs 2.23 lakh crore on healthcare this fiscal including Rs 35,000 crore on Covid-19 vaccines.

The Minister said that various health care schemes launched by Modi Government such as PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission, Ayushman Bharat Jan ArogyaYojana, Ayushman Health and Wellness Centres, Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) and Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission have made healthcare facilities accessible and affordable to millions of poor people in the country. Read More


Consultation Paper on Proposed Health Data Retention Policy


Recommendations from Tamil Nadu Chapter & NCR Chapter of Telemedicine Society of India hat was sent to the Joint Director (Coordination),National Health Authority Delhi

2.4 Key Issues for Consultation

1. Whether there is a need for a Health Data Retention Policy and will Indian healthcare ecosystem benefit from such a Universal Data Retention Policy and what should be the key elements of this policy?

Ans. Yes this is indeed required with advent of digital health and to make it uniform. Though we have had a late start in India, however we can learn from experience of other countries and avoid their errors

The key elements of the policy should be as follows –
Structure

  1. Formulate an independent body with reps from govt and non-govt organisations
  2. Invite a few stakeholders from some leading countries on the board Focus
  3. Interoperability of such data
  4. Define data types and subtypes and give each weightage for storage
  5. Broadly define acute care vs chronic care – more so with the increasing burden of NCDs. There is a need to store chronic care data for longer

2. How should the guiding principle of this policy be determined for the benefit of stakeholders and ease of adoption by varying sizes of entities deciding to opt in for ABDM?

  1. Keep the policy flexible with a review every five years,
  2. Storage should be in digital format,
  3. Irrespective of size of entity storage time should be the same especially if it means data sharing

3.2 Key Issues for Consultation

1. As per Option 1, it has been proposed that the policy would be applicable to all healthcare entities from health data retention perspective. As per Option 2, the policy will be applicable only to entities participating in ABDM? Which would be a better option for the scope of the health data retention policy?

Ans. This has to be work in evolution. Ideally option 2 should be possible but this can become a nonstarter considering the complexity of the current healthcare infrastructure and digitations and lack of standards

Our recommendation the policy will be applicable only to entities participating in ABDM to start with an objective to integrate other entities in future.

As GoI is going to be both the provider and the payer ( through its universal health insurance schemes) it will not be too difficult to set standards and have a uniform system.

After the initial learnings it can recommend other entities too join.

However an option can be provided to all entities to join without making it compulsory

2. How such a policy should be implemented given limitations in terms of infrastructure, capability, and sufficient understanding of health data in the healthcare ecosystem?

This will take time but then following would be required-

  1. Regular seminars and educating healthcare professionals and managers
  2. Setting minimum standards requirement and making this a requirement for accreditation for health insurance claims, NABH and NABL

3. As ABDM has a provision for opt-out, in such a scenario what may be the possible implications from the perspective of health data retention?

Ans. This has been answered in the first question. A flexible approach would help stakeholders understand and appreciate the importance of data harmonisation and data retention. It would help avoid fear psychosis, would give time and feedback of what is implemented and make changes in the policies.

Having the payers on the side of the GoI would also help entities to fall in line.

However, where ever the GoI is a stakeholder as a payer and provider – it should be made compulsory and no opt out option should be provided.

4.8 Key Issues for Consultation

This is the most important chapter of the current document. What must remember is that so far the hospitals have followed a physical format of preservation of data. While this has certain advantages in a hospital setting for a follow up system for medical professionals but it adds costs for physical storage, retrieval, classification and maintenance.

This has resulted in many hospitals not having a medical records section at all resulting in patients carrying their medical file from hospital/doctor to another hospital/doctor.

The digitation of records help the whole ecosystem and creates efficiency in the it.

1. Should a blanket retention duration be adopted for all health records in India or different schedules be defined as per a classification? Which is a better approach of retention?

Ans. If blanket retention is followed it would avoid much confusion and discussion.

The number of years for data retention are random and there are no studies that these periods make any sense in the context of data retrieval or other requirements and these are based to lessen the physical storage burden. However, with digitisation of data and the cost of the same coming down, a rethink is required as this is a new paradigm we are addressing and has no comparison to the physical world.

2. How granular should data classification be? Is more granularity required beyond that presented in the sections above? Addressing this aspect of the Health Data Retention Policy would help assess whether minimalist data classification – pertaining only to inpatients and outpatients – would suffice the purpose of health data retention. A minimalist data classification would have both advantages and disadvantages. Please suggest your view in this regard.

And 3. How in your view will a detailed granular data classification enable a better health data retention? Please suggest your view on the classification of health record types as proposed above or if any further granularity is necessary and what are the overarching benefits for different stakeholders?

Ans. Most health data are interlinked from point of patient care and really subclassifying again applies better when there is a physical need of storage of such data.

A new paradigm of data classification will emerge in the digital world. It may be defined as a health condition being cured or not cured. Being acute and cured or acute and not cured or chronic and cured or chronic and not cured.

Again, if blanket retention is followed granularity of data would have not much meaning

4. What should be the ideal duration for these different health data types?

Ans. Different countries follow different timelines and this is random depending on investment in medical record section.

It is generally recommended that the Personal health record should be available for lifetime hence why should other data retention be looked at differently.

UK follows 20 to 25 years. We currently feel this should be the minimum time of retention with a recommendation for it to be ideally for lifetime.

We need to look ahead and serve the new generation borne in the digital age. For a child born today, 10 years of data retention would be meaningless. For someone with chronic care one can’t delete data that goes beyond 10 years.

At this stage as said earlier, the minimum period should be defined as not less than 20 years and recommended for lifetime. A review should be possible in time to come. 10 years is too short a time.

5. While ABDM proposes that all entities opting to join NDHE must be able to retain health data in electronic format, and other entities of the healthcare ecosystem may consider physical or original formats, what options should be made allowable as part of the policy being proposed? Health data records can be only digital, only physical, or combination in any hospital. Accordingly, the question arises whether all the above considerations should fall under one policy or under separate/independent policies?

Ans. Digital format should be compulsory and physical should be optional. A uniform policy would cause less confusion and also be a trigger for the much required change.

6. Should there be a provision for extension of duration or retention of health data under the policy being proposed? What considerations should be made in defining the guidelines, allowing for such an extension?

Ans. Keeping it flexible is the key as time would be required for change. However, at the same time to quicken the process Incentives or a reward system could be created to hospitals, entities, states, cities etc that adopt and implement the change.
In fact, as a starting point all smart cities policies should have this policy as one of the pre-requisites.

7. Who shall have the apex authority to oversee and implement health data retention? Which entity as part of the ecosystem should be rolling out this policy at the macro-level?

Ans. Initially the National Digital Health Authority should be in charge, however creating an independent body with key stakeholders would be ideal under the National Digital Health Authority.

8. How can smaller clinics or centres, both public and private, build capability in a timely and cost-efficient manner to take responsibility of data retention for long time periods?

Ans. The health insurance in the country already has certain requirements and many smaller clinics are slowly adopting some of these requirements. Most will eventually have to fall inline or the larger good.

Hospitals with less than say 25 beds maybe given a longer gestation period for adoption.

9. How can business continuity be ensured in case of fall of the establishment, platform or service providers?

Ans. This is going ot be challenge and requires further deliberation.

In case of closure of an establishment all the data should be transferred to a central repository which can be state or central driven and a mechanism would need to be devised.

Questions to be answered –

  • Format of such a body
  • If the data is in physical format who would bear the cost of digitisation
  • Method of usage of such data

5.5 Key Issues for Consultation

1. Will the governance model as per Health Data Management Policy be sufficient for the retention policy?

Ans. There needs to be audit system by third party that needs to be built in to ensure trust, compliance and accountability

2. How will the policy regulation be enforced and what should be the structure across relevant entities responsible for retaining the health data?

Ans. This would require to be implemented as addendum to many regulations.

Some of these would need to be part of the regulatory structure of PDP Bill on data protection after it is passed by the GoI

3. How should the implementation of the policy be done in case the policy is made applicable for the ecosystem beyond ABDM?

& 4. Is there an alternative model or policy approach which could be considered?

Implementation of the policy will happen if it becomes part of a regulatory requirement.

A start needs to be made and it needs to evolve and change from time to time. There are no perfect policies or perfect implantation and one cannot have all the answers to various questions that crop up.


A Unique Blended Mental Health Support Delivery Model

Smriti Joshi, MBPsS, M.phil in Clinical Psychology
Advanced Certified Telebehavioral Health Professional (www.telehealth.org) | Lead Psychologist & Member Board of Directors, Wysa

 

In-person mental health support is not replaceable yet it cannot scale enough to address this rapidly increasing need to provide mental health support to this growing public mental health support crisis. (AI)-enabled, empathetic, and evidence-driven conversational agents are now being considered a way to rapidly scale mental health support provision, augmenting existing mental health services. Wysa is one of the world’s leading solutions in this space, with 4 million users served, who have had 485 million conversations in 65 countries.

Wysa was founded in 2016, and I am part of the 5 member founding team.

A. Wysa Introduction & Background
Wysa ‘s service model can be best imagined as a unique 3-layer ‘pyramid of care’, based on an anonymous, text-based app interface that can create custom care pathways. App users get help through –
(1) an emotionally-intelligent AI-CBT delivering chatbot providing 24X7 support,
(2) a library of evidence-based self-help tools and techniques to help build resilience.
(3) online therapy with professional clinical and counselling psychologists.

The model is affordable (cost of triage can be 90% lower), scalable (It can support a 4 million user base with a 70 people team), and flexible to integrate with existing service ecosystems; so it is very suitable for early stage intervention, and support at a population level.

The AI is built inhouse, and tuned for emotional intelligence, delivering evidence-based AI-driven Cognitive Behavior therapy (AI-CBT). Wysa allows for free text input which makes the conversation empathetic allowing for a richer user experience. Wysa’s 100+ NLP models, built on 485 million+ conversations, make its ‘listening’ ability unique and the best in the world today. This AI meets global Clinical Safety standards, are ISO certified, and is explainable using non-generative models that can be audited for clinical safety.

B. Global Leadership
Wysa is a global leader in conversational AI for behavioral health and has already helped improve mental health care for over 4 million individuals across 65 countries. It is the preferred digital behavioral health partner for organizations like Accenture, Aetna, Travelers, and the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, and the Ministry of Health in Singapore.

Wysa is rated #1 at 93% by ORCHA, the NHS digital app evaluation agency – the highest across all categories – including a 100% on clinical assurance.

It has recently won the NHS NIHR AI Award, aims to accelerate the testing and evaluation of AI technologies in the NHS so patients can benefit from faster and more personalized diagnosis and greater efficiency in screening services.

  • NHS Featured App for Covid: link
  • NHS ORCHA Best App in Health & Care (ORCHA is the NHS digital health solution evaluation agency): link
  • Forbes Top 5 Innovations in Mental Health 2020: link
  • Google Play Best App 2020
  • CB Insights 25 Technologies Changing the Post-covid World: link
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (US) Recommended solution for Covid management: link
  • ORCHA 10 Best Apps to Manage Long Covid: link

Wysa’s efficacy for managing depression has been established through a peer-reviewed study published in JMIR, the world’s top e-health journal. We are currently running clinical trials with Harvard Medical School, Columbia, Cambridge, Washington University and the NIHR in the UK: 10 other research papers are underway, and will be published in 2022.

C. My Role & Contributions
The last 6 years of working at Wysa have been the most productive and fulfilling years of my career as there has been immense learning around how AI and machine learning can make healthcare more accessible and scalable and bridge the existing gap in service provision due to various challenges.

Apart from being part of Wysa’s founding team and serving on the Board of Directors, I have set up a 30-people clinical and therapist team that supports clients from India and 30 other countries using Text based and Audio-video counselling and psychotherapy – starting in India, we now have clinical team members in the US and UK. In addition to clinical inputs for product design for our AI platform, the team has also completed more than 10,000 therapy sessions in the past 3 years with a 95% client approval rating.

In addition, I have been the company’s senior representative at Swasth Alliance, an public-private partnership between the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India, and a consortium of startups in the Indian ecosystem coming together to serve the country during Covid. I am also part of the leadership team driving Wysa’s response to the mental health challenge brought upon by India’s third Covid wave, through a partnership with ACT Grants (a multiparty donor consortium) and the Govt of India.

The burden of care on health care professionals is immense. While setting up a team for remote delivery services, especially during the recent covid-19 waves, where psycho-therapy providers themselves were struggling with covid-19 related concerns, I developed a keen interest in an area often neglected by practitioners themselves- compassion fatigue and burnout in health care providers.

Ensuring my team’s well being and building team resilience became my key focus and I ensured that this work was carried out via an action based research effort at Wysa.

We are creating new models of tele-therapy that combine human support with AI-led CBT, that are cutting-edge and unique and our unique culture, ethos and spirit of service are being recognised in clinical and practitioner communities within tele-therapy globally. I have been invited to offer mentoring and support to aspiring psychologists from across the world via this https://www.therapistsintech.com/ to assist them in their phase of transition from making a shift from in person clinical practice or academia to delivering services via online modalities and also helping platforms build resilient remote service delivery teams, especially in the wake of covid-19. These efforts were acknowledged by this international platform and I was awarded with “The outstanding mentor in tech award for 2021”.

https://wysabuddy.app.link/dwwysa – Download Wysa Link


A model for sustainable, partnership-based telehealth services in rural India: An early process evaluation from Tuver village, Gujarat

Shoba Ramanadhan 1, Krishnan Ganapathy 2, Lovakanth Nukala 2, Subramaniya Rajagopalan 3, John C Camillus 4

Prof. Krishnan Ganapathy
Past President, Telemedicine Society of India & Neurological Society of India | Hon Distinguished Professor The Tamilnadu Dr. MGR Medical University | Emeritus Professor, National Academy of Medical Sciences | Formerly Adjunct Professor IIT Madras & Anna University | Director Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation & Apollo Tele Health Services | URL: www.kganapathy.in

 

Abstract

Background: Telehealth can improve access to high-quality healthcare for rural populations in India. However, rural communities often have other needs, such as sanitation or employment, to benefit fully from telehealth offerings, highlighting a need for systems-level solutions. A Business of Humanity approach argues that innovative solutions to wicked problems like these require strategic decision-making that attends to a) humaneness, e.g., equity and safety and b) humankind, or the needs and potential of large and growing markets comprised of marginalized and low-income individuals. The approach is expected to improve economic performance and long-term value creation for partners, thus supporting sustainability.

Methods: A demonstration project was conducted in Tuver, a rural and tribal village in Gujarat, India. The project included seven components: a partnership that emphasized power-sharing and complementary contributions; telehealth services; health promotion; digital services; power infrastructure; water and sanitation; and agribusiness. Core partners included the academic partner, local village leadership, a local development foundation, a telehealth provider, and a design-build contractor. This early process evaluation relies on administrative data, field notes, and project documentation and was analyzed using a case study approach.

Results: Findings highlight the importance of taking a systems perspective and engaging inter-sectoral partners through alignment of values and goals. Additionally, the creation of a synergistic, health-promoting ecosystem offers potential to support telehealth services in the long-term. At the same time, engaging rural, tribal communities in the use of technological advances posed a challenge, though local staff and intermediaries were effective in bridging disconnects.

Conclusion: Overall, this early process evaluation highlights the promise and challenges of using a Business of Humanity approach for coordinated, sustainable community-level action to improve the health and well-being of marginalized communities.

Publish or Perish

The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, describes ‘publish or perish’ as an attitude or practice existing within academic institutions, whereby researchers are put under pressure to produce journal publications to retain their positions or to be deemed successful, The phrase is attributed to Coolidge who enunciated this theory in 1932. Successful publications draw attention to scholars and their sponsoring institutions. This , helps getting funds for research projects. However the pressure to publish also causes poor work being submitted to academic journals.

Publications in Telehealth have increased exponentially in the last 2 years. The author personally reviews at least one article a week from several international journals. Journals are measured by their impact factor (IF), which is the average number of citations per article published in that journal. Not many Indian journals have an impact index of even more than 2.5 .Neurology India for example has an IF of 2.7 . New England Journal of Medicine has an IF of 92 !! What is an author’s impact ?. This is traditionally measured using the number of citations a single article has received. Today this information can be obtained in real time. The impact of a publication can also be determined by the number of times a free access article has been downloaded.

The author’s first paper in a Pubmed indexed journal was as an MBBS student in 1972. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/4402191/. Since then one book has been edited, 20 chapters contributed and 79 papers published in indexed journals. Most of the 30 odd papers dealing with telehealth have been downloaded in large numbers. An article “ Distribution of neurologists and neurosurgeons in India and its relevance to Telemedicine ” https://www.neurologyindia.com/articleStatistics.asp?issn=0028-3886;year=2015;volume=63;issue=2;spage=142;epage=154;aulast=Ganapathy;aid=ni_2015_63_2_142_156274 has been downloaded 17,500 times and also often cited.

Publishing a paper in a well known journal is time consuming and labor intensive. In academic institutions a good library, secretarial help and residents are available to help the faculty to put together a paper. As mentioned earlier it is part of their job profile and is essential for survival. Interestingly more services in various aspects of telehealth are offered in the private sector. Here the story is different. In large private institutions a P&L driving CEO has concerns, and rightfully so, in making available “confidential” data in the public domain. Top journals insist on full access to nitty gritty. There is a conflict of interests. Paper publication takes a back seat. HR are dedicated to managing the operations. They generally do not have a Paper publishing background. Not being a part of their KPI it is extremely difficult to make them do extra work.

Publishing papers in national / international journals in the field of Telemedicine do have a RoI. Unfortunately this takes considerable time. It is not a low hanging fruit. From a purely personal growth perspective, every time one writes a paper, one becomes a little more knowledgeable. Literature review ensures that we are up to date. Defining the problem, spelling out exact aims and objectives, documenting observations , extrapolating inferences, writing a discussion and making conclusions when repeatedly done becomes part of one’s DNA. Writing an article makes one see the Big Picture. Getting an article accepted for publication is an art and a science. : https://www.neurologyindia.com/text.asp?2021/69/6/1547/333463. Adopting a scientific approach means more business !

India is indeed a paradox. In terms of numbers we probably provide more teleconsultations every single day than most countries on this planet. It is often stated that the sheer volume of work prevents us from meticulous documentation and follow up which is the sine qua non of doing any impact study. Interestingly even politicians and administrators want hard core scientific evidence that our remote intervention is cost effective resulting in significant difference in the ultimate health care outcome. The only way to get this evidence is to plan a paper for the NEJM and be patient for 3 years !! A prospective multi institutional well designed and funded study resulting in multiple papers alone will enable India to take a leadership role in the comity of nations. Improbable Yes. Impossible No. Do hope the Next Generation will take this seriously and not treat it as the rumblings of a septuagenarian. 22 years after the birth of Telehealth in India we should no longer follow high standards. We must set them. We should not be talking of achieving world class. The world should talk about achieving India class. We have the potential to bring out at least 40 papers every year in journals with an IF of > 2.5 . Doing qood quality work alone is not enough. The world should know about it !!


Handling Sensitive Situations through Telemedicine

Anay Shukla
Founding Partner, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm
Eshika Phadke

Associate, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm

 

The legalisation of telemedicine has been a boon for access to healthcare. However, the increased reliance on telemedicine has also been accompanied by unintended consequences: doctors may receive requests during consultations that are of a risky or highly sensitive nature, that they may not be comfortable handling.

For instance, a doctor may be consulted by a patient for a matter that requires an in-person examination, or it may be that the medication that the patient requires for their condition cannot be prescribed through telemedicine, but the patient refuses to visit a clinic or hospital and insists on receiving treatment through a teleconsultation only. In such a case, the doctor must inform the patient that a diagnosis cannot be arrived at or treatment cannot be commenced through a teleconsultation, and should meticulously record the patient’s refusal to seek a physical consultation. The doctor should inform them of the risks of not seeking proper treatment, and should record that the patient has been informed of the risks and is still refusing to seek proper treatment. Essentially, the doctor should capture that the patient was fully informed of the situation, and that he/she acted against medical advice.

In more extreme situations, a doctor may be consulted in an emergency situation where the patient requires urgent care. The doctor should advise the patient or caller to call an ambulance or rush to a hospital immediately. If required, the doctor may also inform the caller of the first aid measures that must be carried out.

There may be situation wherein a patient is verbally abusive or behaves inappropriately, perhaps even to an extent where the doctor feels uncomfortable or at risk. In such a situation, the doctor may advise the patient to consult with another doctor, end the consultation, and record his/her reasons for doing so. Depending on the severity, the doctor may also file a complaint with the police. If the doctor is consulting through a telemedicine service provider, he/she should also inform the management so that they can take appropriate actions.

If a patient is incoherent and appears to be either of unsound mind or inebriated, the doctor should ascertain whether there is a caregiver or trusted person whom the doctor may speak to for clarity and to give further instructions to. Doctors should exercise great caution while administering advice to a person who does not appear to be lucid.

A patient may display suicidal tendencies or even outrightly express that they intend to hurt either themselves or another person. In such situation, as with regular consultations, the doctor must promptly inform the authorities. Similarly, if the patient confides in the doctor that he/she is the victim of abuse or has been assaulted, the doctor should consider whether the authorities ought to be notified. Note that, to the extent that it is practical, guidelines for medicolegal cases should be adhered to for cases that are of a medicolegal nature.

Such situations are not specific to telemedicine, and may also occur with in-person consultations. Doctors should ensure that they apply at least the same level of prudence and professional judgment for remote consultations, and should ensure that they maintain meticulous records of such interactions (including any complaints made to authorities in relation to such interactions). Wherever possible, they should attempt to ensure that the records also reflect that the patient was made aware of the situation, and the patient concurs with what is being recorded in the doctor’s notes.


Telemedicine – News from India & Abroad

India

Telemedicine Gonna be the Main Pillar of India’s Healthcare System

Telemedicine is going to be the main pillar of India’s healthcare system in the future, said the Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh “Innovative healthcare solutions like telemedicinecould save India between $4–5 billion every year and replace half…..Readmore

International

New Device Helps Measure Blood Pressure and Other Vitals

New ‘finger clip’ device has been designed to measure and monitor blood pressure consintuously, reveals a new study.Monitoring a person’s blood pressure on a regular basis can help health care professionals with early detection of various health problems such as high blood pressure…..Readmore

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Helps Improve Patient and Doctor Communication

Understanding between a patient with low health literacy and doctors can be improved with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) as per a study at the University of California – San Francisco, published in Science Advances.The study team performed a computer analysis of 250,000 … Read More


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TN – TSI invites all the TSI Chapters and Members to submit information on their upcoming Webinar or Events (50 words), News related to Telemedicine (200 words) or short articles (500 words) for the monthly e-newsletter.

Guidelines for submission to TN TSI Newsletter-

  • Report can be from 500 to 600 words
  • Report Should be relevant to Telemedicine or Medical Informatics
  • No promotion of self or any product
  • Avoid plagiarism
  • All references should be included
  • Provide any attributions
  • Visuals are welcome including video links
  • Send full authors name, degrees, affiliations along with a passport sized photograph of good resolution. If multiple authors only main author photo to be sent.

Submission may be sent to – tsigrouptn@gmail.com
Editors reserve the rights for accepting and publishing any submitted material.

Editor in Chief – Dr. Sunil Shroff
Editors – Dr. Senthil Tamilarasan & Dr. Sheila John
Technical Partner- www.medindia.net

 

e-Newsletter December 2021

Telehealth Newsletter

Official Newsletter of Tamil Nadu Chapter of Telemedicine Society of India

What is New?

This issue reports the highlights of the annual conference of Indian Society of Lifestyle Medicine. A society that will play stellar role in the development of tele-health space. Tele-health is ideally placed to treat most of the Non-Communicable disease that now makes up the major reason for morbidity and mortality of our global population.

TSI itself is now undertaking the amendment of its constitution after 20 years, all members should contribute to this endeavour by sending their recommendations to our hon secretary.

We finish another year of uncertainty with the Omicron variant. From the editors of this newsletter our best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season and a very happy and healthy 2022 to all TSI members.

Thank You
Dr. Sunil Shroff
Chief Editor
President – TN Chapter – TSI


‘A Paradigm Shift in Healthcare’ theme of the Second annual conference of Indian Society of Lifestyle Medicine

Dr. Ravi Modalli
Treasurer, Indian Society of Lifestyle Medicine

 

 

The second International Conference i.e. ISLM2021 was conducted on the 27th and 28th November 2021 by Indian Society of Lifestyle Medicine (ISLM – www.islm.org.in). Under the conference theme ‘A Paradigm Shift in Healthcare’, deliberations of ISLM2021 established the value of Lifestyle Medicine in bending the trajectory of healthcare towards positive health and well-being among physicians, their patients & people in general.

Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, MBBS, MD, MSc, FACPM, FACOEM, ABoIM, DipABLM, Prof of Population Health Sciences, Weill Cornell Medical College, NY, USA, in his key note message extended his full support to ISLM leadership & highlighted that reforms of modern healthcare must hold it’s progressive path by adopting lifestyle medicine approaches to control the burden of lifestyle diseases and reduce the incidence of premature deaths. Lifestyle medicine offers a breath of fresh air. Providing patient-centred evidence based lifestyle medical care, when warranted, is a step in the right direction. He summarised saying ‘This year’s ISLM2021 conference on changing the paradigm of healthcare will shed light on how lifestyle medicine can positively impact healthcare delivery in India.

Ms. Preetha Reddy, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Group, in her key-note message commended the organisation of ISLM2021 and prompted the entire medical fraternity to champion the healthy way forward and mitigate the burgeoning threat of lifestyle related chronic diseases, thereby contributing to the making of a healthy economy.

Dr. Sheela Nambiar, President, ISLM, presented the conference theme of ISLM2021 highlighting ISLM’s approach to reduce burden of the already overloaded healthcare system & making care systems more conducive to wellbeing and quality life for physicians and their patients.

She spelt ISLM’s 8 point vision:
1. To educate medical students on principles and practices of Lifestyle Medicine
2. To motivate and inspire young physicians to adopt health promotion & personal protective practices including preventive medicine using lifestyle modifications
3. To create strategic alliances between healthcare systems and other organizations, corporates, communities, companies and interested individuals to help the cause of ‘health promotion’, ‘disease prevention & control’ and improved longevity using the principles of Lifestyle Medicine.
4. To continue collaborating with senior physicians in India who are integrating lifestyle medical protocols in their clinical practices.
5. To establish standards of education and service protocols for Lifestyle Health Management.
6. To amass more indigenous research, improving the understanding of our own population and better control of lifestyle related diseases.
7. To take social responsibility by educating people on healthy choices & empower control on their personal health.
8. To make India a forerunner to contend with global movement of Lifestyle Medicine in lines with Sustainable Developmental Goals

Over 40 speakers including Padmashrees, Padmabhushans, Academicians & Practitioners of International repute shared evidence on alignment of Lifestyle Medicine with over 22 topics of mainstream clinical disciplines like Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Oncology, Cardiology, Neurology, Psychiatry, Adolescent Medicine, Obesity, COVID19 care, Sleep medicine, etc.

Dr. Sunil Shroff, Renowned Urologist, Transplant Surgeon & President, TN – Telemedicine Society of India, enlightened on the prospects of delivering lifestyle medical care through tele-health & tele-medicine especially on reaching the masses, keeping people engaged in personal health & also enabling long-term treatment follow-ups. Tamil Nadu Medical Council permitted CME credit hours for the conference.

The conference also featured two workshops on Stress Management and Culinary Medicine. Participants enjoyed the morning exercise sessions. Series of virtual networking meets allowed attendees to interact with the faculty, discussing topics of interest like Telemedicine, Mindfulness, Principles of Lifestyle Medicine, Nutrition, Obesity, Positive Psychology. A panel discussion on Lifestyle Medicine in Clinical Practice brought forth the experiences of leading Lifestyle Medicine Physicians in India.

Thirty physicians and licensed dietitians appeared for the certification examination conducted by the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine through ISLM. Scores of researchers participated in the research presentations highlighting the adoption of principles of lifestyle medicine in mainstream healthcare.

Lifestyle Medicine, being a vital clinical area of work promoted by the Indian Society of Lifestyle Medicine, the new members joining ISLM enjoy continued learning opportunities through the monthly academic & research activities of ISLM.

A world full of compliments for ISLM2021, sponsors messages, abstracts, recipes are captured in the form of a souvenir that is accessible at www.islm.org.in

Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, MBBS, MD, MSc, FACPM, FACOEM, ABoIM, DipABLM, Prof of Population Health Sciences, Weill Cornell Medical College, NY, USA, gave the key note message
Ms. Preetha Reddy, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Group addressing the ISLSM Conference

ISO 13131 Certification for Telehealth Services

Prof. K. Ganapathy
Past President, Telemedicine Society of India & Neurological Society of India | Hon Distinguished Professor The Tamilnadu Dr MGR Medical University | Emeritus Professor, National Academy of Medical Sciences | Formerly Adjunct Professor IIT Madras & Anna University | Director Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation &, Apollo Tele Health Services | URL: www.kganapathy.in

December 10th 2021 is indeed a Red letter day for Indian Telehealth. On this day the ISO 13131-2021, certification for Telehealth Services was obtained for the first time anywhere, by Apollo Telehealth Services . This brief note points out the necessity for raising the bar and setting high standards, so that the world will strive to achieve India class.

For decades, Telemedicine/Telehealth services was not centre stage in the healthcare delivery system. COVID-19 changed this. The world has now accepted that the forced lockdown- enforced acceptance of Remote Health Care will become the new normal even after the pandemic is de notified. Universal acceptance, increases the responsibility of all health care providers deploying technology, to ensure constant high quality while bridging the urban rural health divide.

Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of deliberate intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution. Though Henry Ford opined that quality means doing it right when no one is looking, in the real world this is difficult to implement. ISO certification ensures that “Big Brother” is watching all the time. The necessity for re certification is like the Sword of Damocles hanging above us. However it drives home the message that Quality is everyone’s responsibility at all times and not during the audit alone. One has to keep running to stay where you are. To maintain the initial global recognition, maintaining quality needs to become a habit, a unique opportunity to transform one’s DNA if necessary!! Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out. Standardising systems, processes, documentation and re documentation alone will ensure providing quality remote healthcare for anyone, anytime anywhere.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) – An OVERVIEW

The, International Standards Organization, TC 215 Health Informatics Committee developed a Technical Specification, ISO/TS 13131 Telehealth services, based on a risk and quality management approach. This standard, supports healthcare planning, service and workforce planning, organization responsibilities, financial and IT management. ISO was established in 1947 in Geneva, Switzerland. An Independent, non-governmental international organization it develops standards that are recognized and respected globally. It brings experts together to improve quality and provide world-class healthcare services. Experts are from 166 national standard bodies. ISO standards are developed by various advisory groups. Presently ISO has 255 technical committees, 515 subcommittees, and 2498 working bodies. Since 1947, ISO’s technical experts have created more than 18,800 standards for all possible business. ISO standards ensure that administration and product/work flow systems are carried out legally, safely and effectively. ISO technical experts have developed several assessment protocols to ensure that certified organizations apply these guidelines in their workplace. The approved protocols aid organisations to ensure that their frameworks, devices and workforce are actually in compliance with ISO standards. ISO 13131 provides recommendations on guidelines for Telehealth services deploying Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to deliver quality healthcare services.

Implementing ISO/TS 13131 means facilitating cooperation and interoperability of its different health systems to ensure quality telehealth services. It also ensures a reliably high standard of service, irrespective of where a person lives, across the globe. This standard provides guidelines for developing quality plans and managing company resources, while putting the right policies in place to safeguard clients’ private data. Securing ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 27001 for information security management reduces the complexity involved in getting the IOSO 13131 branding. Realising that excellence is always a moving target it was the logical next step in the company’s journey to go (to paraphrase Captain Kirk of Star Trek)“ where no Man had ever gone before”.

The decision to get certified though it was time consuming, labor intensive and expensive was the determination to set a benchmark for the whole telehealth sector. A leading market player faced with competition, the company needed reassurance that its high-quality standards would provide a stamp of recognition and help distinguish it from its competitors. As a pioneer in the field, it was important to set the conditions of competition, to prevent some potentially harmful practices of others, from compromising the reputation of all. Considering the high risks involved in securing patients’ data privacy, it was crucial for the organization to be sure it’s IT systems and processes were stringent, fulfilled the highest expectations in this sensitive sector and conformed to security legislation.. A preliminary gap analysis was conducted and where ISO/TS 13131 provided more specific criteria than the ones actually in place, these were ear marked for improvement. Consumers draw confidence from the stringent certification process. ISO standards will help organisations comply with new regulatory requirements, enhancing efficiency of internal processes and quality of remote health services provided. Documenting the much needed framework necessary for supply of services, improves value of the product. The more diverse and competitive the market, the more guidance consumers need, to be sure they are purchasing the service they want at the best price. International Standards helps maintain a healthy competition in the marketplace.

We need to identify the right quality metrics, and ensure that the information is readily available to patients, health systems and providers themselves. Consumers should be helped to gauge telehealth providers, and provide healthcare workers/systems with feedback for continuous improvement. Best practices for virtual care need to be standardised, notified and applauded so that it will be increasingly sought after. As the pandemic further disrupts the balance between in-person care and telemedicine, we no longer have the luxury of waiting. The time to define, implement and enforce quality in all aspects of telehealth is not tomorrow but today. Formal certification by an international organisation requires hundred percent fulfilment of stringent criteria. This pre supposes commitment of a very high order and the realisation that excellence is always a moving target. One can never ever rest on one’s laurels. We need to keep running to stay where we are.


The Use of Fitness Trackers for Telemedicine

Anay Shukla
Founding Partner, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm
Eshika Phadke

Associate, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm

Fitness trackers are increasingly being relied upon by people to monitor factors such as temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, blood oxygenation, sleep patterns and exercise levels. Concurrently there has been a significant rise in remote consultations between patients and doctors. As a result, data from patients’ fitness trackers are making their way into telemedicine. However, doctors must proceed with caution while placing reliance on vitals that have been obtained from a fitness tracker.

First and foremost, even though fitness trackers offer medical device-like functionalities, they may or may not actually be medical devices. While a medical device is subject to regulatory scrutiny and has to undergo extensive clinical testing to ensure it’s accuracy before it is launched in the market, a fitness tracker does not undergo similar testing. Fitness trackers are, as the name would indicate, meant to track fitness levels and are targeted at healthy individuals. The manufacturers consciously elect to not pursue the medical device route, and do not intend for the device to be used to monitor vitals in a “patient”. They contain an explicit disclaimer on the packaging itself stating that the product is not a medical device and is not intended to be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. In addition, unlike a medical device, the health data of individuals collected by these trackers can be accessed by the manufacturer, and therefore while choosing a fitness tracker, doctors and patients should make an informed choice from data protection perspective on use of such health data by the manufacturer.

Second, the fitness trackers are not subject to conform with any uniform quality standards in India, and every fitness tracker uses a different technology and algorithm for tracking data and thus, hardly ever will two fitness trackers report similar numbers.

Further, fitness trackers are highly susceptible to human error and external conditions, and individuals are generally unaware of how to use the function correctly, so the data derived from a fitness tracker is not reliable. The reading would be affected by where the person is wearing it, how tight or loose the strap is, whether the person is wearing accessories that may hinder the sensor, whether the person is perspiring, whether they are correctly positioned, movement, the charge or the device, etc.

Therefore, while the utility of these devices is undeniable, their utility in medicine warrants abundant caution. The responsibility of a doctor to exercise great caution and professional discretion increases while discharging their professional services via telemedicine due to lack of physical contact with the patient. If a patient does use a fitness tracker and relays information from it to a doctor during teleconsultation, the doctor should refrain from taking the reading at face value or basing decisions solely on them. That being said, they may take it into consideration in combination with other symptoms and the patient’s history. The doctor could also peruse historical data from these devices to identify any patterns in the patient’s readings.

If a doctor does rely on any data that the patient obtained from a tracker, they should also note down the make and model of the device in their notes, if possible, so that they can also verify whether the tracker is a medical device or not. If it is, the doctor should also confirm with the patient that they used the device as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Irrespective, before commencing a treatment plan on the basis of a information that had been obtained from a patient-operated device the vital signs of a patient should direct the patient to visit a doctor for and have their vitals measured and verified on a reliable device.


Telehealth and Medicine Today (TMT) Journal

Tory Cenaj
Founder and Publisher, Partners in Digital Health

Telehealth and Medicine Today (TMT) is an open access international peer reviewed journal examining the value of telehealth and clinical automation, its use and scalable developments, business process guidance, market research and the economic impact of digital health innovations in an evolving health technology sector. A world-class review board includes constructive commentary through rapid and rigorous peer review.

TMT’s audience includes leadership at hospitals and medical research centers, universities, payor organizations, IT/IS, healthcare providers, consultants, companies (early and more established), entrepreneurs, developers & start-ups, life sciences and device companies, pharmacy, NGO, government, and policy leadership around the globe.

For a complimentary subscription, register at:
https://telehealthandmedicinetoday.com/index.php/journal/user/register


 

Telemedicine Practice Guidelines – A Foundation Course for RMPs by TSI Faculty

To know more about the Telemedicine Foundation Course click on the link below:
https://tsi.org.in/courses/


Telemedicine – News from India & Abroad

India

Vyomanauts
Dr. Ganapathy strongly believes that the ultimate in Telehealth where the sky is no longer the limit (pun intended) will be a reality even in India in the next decade. The MoS Space has announced that India’s first International Space Station will be launched in 2030. ISRO hopes to launch our own Vyomanauts in 15 to 18 months from now. It is therefore not surprising that the ever future ready IIT Alumnus Club invited Dr. Ganapathy to give a talk on Extra terrestrial Healthcare. Profusely illustrated this talk gives several examples of technology transfer – tools planned to withstand microgravity and irradiation have resulted in better less expensive armamentarium for health care providers on earth. The full talk is available @….Readmore

Artificial Intelligence Helps Doctors With Patient Diagnoses
Artificial intelligence (AI) can facilitate a faster, automated route in decisions doctors need to take, ultimately meaning quicker answers and patient recovery….Readmore

 

International

British Man Receives World’s First 3D-Printed Eye
World’s first 3D-printed eye has been fitted to a middle-aged man in the UK, as part of a trial. reports media. Doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London fitted the first ever 3D-printed eye Read More

Machine Learning Predicts Death Risk in Heart Disease Patients
A new machine learning/artificial intelligence score provided an accurate forecast of the likelihood of patients with suspected or known coronary artery disease dying within 10 years…. Read More

 


TN – TSI invites all the TSI Chapters and Members to submit information on their upcoming Webinar or Events (50 words), News related to Telemedicine (200 words) or short articles (500 words) for the monthly e-newsletter.

Guidelines for submission to TN TSI Newsletter-

  • Report can be from 500 to 600 words
  • Report Should be relevant to Telemedicine or Medical Informatics
  • No promotion of self or any product
  • Avoid plagiarism
  • All references should be included
  • Provide any attributions
  • Visuals are welcome including video links
  • Send full authors name, degrees, affiliations along with a passport sized photograph of good resolution. If multiple authors only main author photo to be sent.

Submission may be sent to – tsigrouptn@gmail.com
Editors reserve the rights for accepting and publishing any submitted material.

Editor in Chief – Dr. Sunil Shroff
Editors – Dr. Senthil Tamilarasan & Dr. Sheila John
Technical Partner- www.medindia.net

 

The Use of Fitness Trackers for Telemedicine

The Use of Fitness Trackers for Telemedicine

Anay Shukla
Founding Partner, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm
Eshika Phadke

Associate, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm

 

Fitness trackers are increasingly being relied upon by people to monitor factors such as temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, blood oxygenation, sleep patterns and exercise levels. Concurrently there has been a significant rise in remote consultations between patients and doctors. As a result, data from patients’ fitness trackers are making their way into telemedicine. However, doctors must proceed with caution while placing reliance on vitals that have been obtained from a fitness tracker.

First and foremost, even though fitness trackers offer medical device-like functionalities, they may or may not actually be medical devices. While a medical device is subject to regulatory scrutiny and has to undergo extensive clinical testing to ensure it’s accuracy before it is launched in the market, a fitness tracker does not undergo similar testing. Fitness trackers are, as the name would indicate, meant to track fitness levels and are targeted at healthy individuals. The manufacturers consciously elect to not pursue the medical device route, and do not intend for the device to be used to monitor vitals in a “patient”. They contain an explicit disclaimer on the packaging itself stating that the product is not a medical device and is not intended to be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. In addition, unlike a medical device, the health data of individuals collected by these trackers can be accessed by the manufacturer, and therefore while choosing a fitness tracker, doctors and patients should make an informed choice from data protection perspective on use of such health data by the manufacturer.

Second, the fitness trackers are not subject to conform with any uniform quality standards in India, and every fitness tracker uses a different technology and algorithm for tracking data and thus, hardly ever will two fitness trackers report similar numbers.

Further, fitness trackers are highly susceptible to human error and external conditions, and individuals are generally unaware of how to use the function correctly, so the data derived from a fitness tracker is not reliable. The reading would be affected by where the person is wearing it, how tight or loose the strap is, whether the person is wearing accessories that may hinder the sensor, whether the person is perspiring, whether they are correctly positioned, movement, the charge or the device, etc.

Therefore, while the utility of these devices is undeniable, their utility in medicine warrants abundant caution. The responsibility of a doctor to exercise great caution and professional discretion increases while discharging their professional services via telemedicine due to lack of physical contact with the patient. If a patient does use a fitness tracker and relays information from it to a doctor during teleconsultation, the doctor should refrain from taking the reading at face value or basing decisions solely on them. That being said, they may take it into consideration in combination with other symptoms and the patient’s history. The doctor could also peruse historical data from these devices to identify any patterns in the patient’s readings.

If a doctor does rely on any data that the patient obtained from a tracker, they should also note down the make and model of the device in their notes, if possible, so that they can also verify whether the tracker is a medical device or not. If it is, the doctor should also confirm with the patient that they used the device as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Irrespective, before commencing a treatment plan on the basis of a information that had been obtained from a patient-operated device the vital signs of a patient should direct the patient to visit a doctor for and have their vitals measured and verified on a reliable device.

ISO 13131 Certification for Telehealth Services

Prof. K. Ganapathy
Past President, Telemedicine Society of India & Neurological Society of India | Hon Distinguished Professor The Tamilnadu Dr MGR Medical University | Emeritus Professor, National Academy of Medical Sciences | Formerly Adjunct Professor IIT Madras & Anna University | Director Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation &, Apollo Tele Health Services | URL: www.kganapathy.in

December 10th 2021 is indeed a Red letter day for Indian Telehealth. On this day the ISO 13131-2021, certification for Telehealth Services was obtained for the first time anywhere, by Apollo Telehealth Services . This brief note points out the necessity for raising the bar and setting high standards, so that the world will strive to achieve India class.

For decades, Telemedicine/Telehealth services was not centre stage in the healthcare delivery system. COVID-19 changed this. The world has now accepted that the forced lockdown- enforced acceptance of Remote Health Care will become the new normal even after the pandemic is de notified. Universal acceptance, increases the responsibility of all health care providers deploying technology, to ensure constant high quality while bridging the urban rural health divide.

Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of deliberate intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution. Though Henry Ford opined that quality means doing it right when no one is looking, in the real world this is difficult to implement. ISO certification ensures that “Big Brother” is watching all the time. The necessity for re certification is like the Sword of Damocles hanging above us. However it drives home the message that Quality is everyone’s responsibility at all times and not during the audit alone. One has to keep running to stay where you are. To maintain the initial global recognition, maintaining quality needs to become a habit, a unique opportunity to transform one’s DNA if necessary!! Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out. Standardising systems, processes, documentation and re documentation alone will ensure providing quality remote healthcare for anyone, anytime anywhere.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) – An OVERVIEW

The, International Standards Organization, TC 215 Health Informatics Committee developed a Technical Specification, ISO/TS 13131 Telehealth services, based on a risk and quality management approach. This standard, supports healthcare planning, service and workforce planning, organization responsibilities, financial and IT management. ISO was established in 1947 in Geneva, Switzerland. An Independent, non-governmental international organization it develops standards that are recognized and respected globally. It brings experts together to improve quality and provide world-class healthcare services. Experts are from 166 national standard bodies. ISO standards are developed by various advisory groups. Presently ISO has 255 technical committees, 515 subcommittees, and 2498 working bodies. Since 1947, ISO’s technical experts have created more than 18,800 standards for all possible business. ISO standards ensure that administration and product/work flow systems are carried out legally, safely and effectively. ISO technical experts have developed several assessment protocols to ensure that certified organizations apply these guidelines in their workplace. The approved protocols aid organisations to ensure that their frameworks, devices and workforce are actually in compliance with ISO standards. ISO 13131 provides recommendations on guidelines for Telehealth services deploying Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to deliver quality healthcare services.

Implementing ISO/TS 13131 means facilitating cooperation and interoperability of its different health systems to ensure quality telehealth services. It also ensures a reliably high standard of service, irrespective of where a person lives, across the globe. This standard provides guidelines for developing quality plans and managing company resources, while putting the right policies in place to safeguard clients’ private data. Securing ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 27001 for information security management reduces the complexity involved in getting the IOSO 13131 branding. Realising that excellence is always a moving target it was the logical next step in the company’s journey to go (to paraphrase Captain Kirk of Star Trek)“ where no Man had ever gone before”.

The decision to get certified though it was time consuming, labor intensive and expensive was the determination to set a benchmark for the whole telehealth sector. A leading market player faced with competition, the company needed reassurance that its high-quality standards would provide a stamp of recognition and help distinguish it from its competitors. As a pioneer in the field, it was important to set the conditions of competition, to prevent some potentially harmful practices of others, from compromising the reputation of all. Considering the high risks involved in securing patients’ data privacy, it was crucial for the organization to be sure it’s IT systems and processes were stringent, fulfilled the highest expectations in this sensitive sector and conformed to security legislation.. A preliminary gap analysis was conducted and where ISO/TS 13131 provided more specific criteria than the ones actually in place, these were ear marked for improvement. Consumers draw confidence from the stringent certification process. ISO standards will help organisations comply with new regulatory requirements, enhancing efficiency of internal processes and quality of remote health services provided. Documenting the much needed framework necessary for supply of services, improves value of the product. The more diverse and competitive the market, the more guidance consumers need, to be sure they are purchasing the service they want at the best price. International Standards helps maintain a healthy competition in the marketplace.

We need to identify the right quality metrics, and ensure that the information is readily available to patients, health systems and providers themselves. Consumers should be helped to gauge telehealth providers, and provide healthcare workers/systems with feedback for continuous improvement. Best practices for virtual care need to be standardised, notified and applauded so that it will be increasingly sought after. As the pandemic further disrupts the balance between in-person care and telemedicine, we no longer have the luxury of waiting. The time to define, implement and enforce quality in all aspects of telehealth is not tomorrow but today. Formal certification by an international organisation requires hundred percent fulfilment of stringent criteria. This pre supposes commitment of a very high order and the realisation that excellence is always a moving target. One can never ever rest on one’s laurels. We need to keep running to stay where we are.

Telemedicon2021

School of Telemedicine & Biomedical Informatics, SGPGIMS, Lucknow hosted the 17th International Conference of Telemedicine Society of India from 12th Nov. to 14th Nov. 2021. It was an annual conference of the Telemedicine Society of India being held every year in different parts of the country to create awareness, sharing new experiences and learning from each other in the field of telemedicine and digital health.

First Day i.e. 12th Nov. 2021, the event started at 9.00 AM with welcome note of the Prof S.K. Mishra, Chairman, Local Organizing Committee, TELEMEDICON2021. First session was devoted only for beginners of Telemedicine where Prof. B.N. Mohanty, Prof. Jayant Mukhopadhya, IIT, Kharagpur, Prof. Meenu Singh, PGIMER, Chandigarh and other 46 National speaker, 20 Chairs & panelist shared their experiences in the field of Telemedicine & digital health and demonstrated how this technology can help for delivering health care in rural parts of India. Mr. Baastian Quast, ITU, Geneva, delivered talk on ITU-WHO Focus Group: Benchmarking AI and Health Solutions as a special Invited speaker. Workshops on Telemedicine & Digital Health Policy & Strategy and Legal & Regulatory Issues, & Telemedicine Practice Guidelines conducted in IV sessions. Following were participated from India and abroad during panel discussion; Prof. J.A. Jayl, Professor of Surgery., National President, Indian Medical Association, Dr. Achal Gulati, Director Principal & Director Professor of ENT in Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Medical College & Hospital, New Delhi, Dr. Balaji Ramachandran, Digital Health Transformation Expert, Bangalore, Mr. Anay Shukla, Founder Editor, Arogyalegal, Mumbai. A panel discussion on developing guidelines of Telecare for chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, neurological disease was considered by ICMR, National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, Bengaluru with the help of country wide experts. For the first time, IIT Bombay, which had just established Koita Centre for Digital Health (KCDH), participated in National telemedicine conference to conduct a workshop on future Health technologies with the collaboration of National Medical Commission experts, IMA and NGOs. Telemedicine Society senior members addressed legal ethical policies issues relating the Telemedicine and digital health and carried out a workshop.

A total of 700+ registered delegates from Medical Institutions, IITs, Dental Colleges, Technical Universities were participated in the first days of conference in virtual as well physical mode. The scientific programme ended at 8.00 PM.

Second Day i.e. 13th Nov. 2021, the event started at 8.00 AM with three parallel Hall under COVID award sessions which specially designed for the speakers to present their work done during the COVID time. Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT, Kanpur delivered Key note Lecture on Wireless Health : Promising trends for equitable access to Healthcare. Dr. Pramod Gaur from USA delivered talk on the re-positioning in Post COVID Health, Prof. D.R. Sahu, Lucknow covered the socio-Technological Dilemma of Future Tele-Health. Ms. Surabhi Joshi from WHO, Geneva, Prof. Isao Nakajima, Japan delivered speech on Digital Technologies in Infectious disease Management particularly for Avian Influenza. Mr. Frank Lievens from Belgium, Prof. Thais Russomano from Brazil, Katarina Hradska from Ostrava Czech Republic shared the experience on the Global Telemedicine & Digital Health. Apart from International, 22 National speakers and 24 abstract presentations were conducted throughout the day.

Inauguration ceremony conducted at the evening where Prof. R.K. Dhiman,Director,SGPGIMS inaugurated the conference as Chief Guest and Prof. Arvind Rajvanshi, Executive Director, AIIMS, Raibareli delivered keynote address. Prof. S.K. Mishra, Chairman, organizing Committee welcome the dignitaries and Prof. P.K. Pradhan, Organizing Secretary delivered the vote of thanks. A total of 600+ delegates from Medical Institutions, IITs, Dental Colleges, Technical Universities were participated in the first days conference in virtual as well physical mode.The Programme ended at 7.00 PM. Subsequently,it was followed with a cultural programme of thematic Kathak dance on ramayan and dinner at hobby center of SGPGIMS,Lucknow.

Third & last day i.e. 14th Nov. 2021, the event again started at 8.00 AM with three parallel Hall under COVID award session which specially designed for the speakers to present their work done during the COVID time. Dr. Gulshan Rai, Former National Cyber Security Coordinator, Govt. of India delivered Key note Lecture on Need of Cyber Security in Health Sector. Dr. Maurice Mars, South Africa, Dr. Luiz Messina, Brazil and Prof. Saroj Mishra from India covered the area of Health 4.0, a vision for Smart Futuristic Healthcare in the symposium session. Prof. R.K. Dhiman, Director, SGPGI delivered the talk on Chronic Disease Telecare, personal perspective with remote monitoring and management of Hepatitis C, Prof. Rakesh Aggarwal, Director, JIPMER, Puducherry emphasize on Digital Health Technologies for the management of public Health Disaster,Prof P K Pradhan shared his experience of telefollow up in thyroid cancer: more than decade long experience and Prof.Sanjay Behari shared his experience of e-CCS in SGPGIMS. Apart from International, 62 National speakers, 36 Moderators and 47 abstract presentation were conducted throughout the day.

Valedictory function conducted at the evening where Prof. Aneesh Srivastava, Dean, SGPGIMS chaired the function though could not attend the function due to medical emergency. Prof. S.K. Mishra, Chairman, organizing Committee welcome the President Col Dr. Aswani Goel, Secretary, Dr. RLN Murthy and other dignitaries. President handed over the Presidential Medallion to President Elect Prof. P.K. Pradhan virtually and Prof. P.K. Pradhan, Organizing Secretary delivered the vote of thanks.

Brief on Conference.

  1. Participants: A total of 700+ delegates from Medical Institutions, IITs, Dental Colleges, Technical Universities were participated in the first days conference virtual as well physical.
  2. Invited Speakers/Chairs/Moderators and presenter;
    The Scientific Programme consists of 02 Key Note Lectures from Director, IIT Kanpur and Ex Cyber Security Chief, Govt. of India, 15 International Invited Lectures, 10 Symposia, Three Panels and 09 free paper sessions having 54 slots for oral presentations. Besides there are three Poster Presentation Sessions covering 18 posters and 12 Industry presentations highlighting technical solutions for telemedicine & digital health. A total 234 speaker/chairs/panelist taken part in this international conference. Best Oral and Poster presentations award and CME Points for all attendees is provided as per U.P. Medical Council regulations. Two Free paper sessions dedicated COVID-19 on Tele-care and Tele-education practices undertaken during COVID-19 Pandemic.
  3. Industry Participation: A total of 15 industry participated and extend their active support for this event.
  4. Knowledge partner Institution: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, Koita Centre for Digital Health (KCDH), Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), Bombay and Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), New Delhi supported this conference as knowledge partner.

www.telemedicon2021.com

Promoting Telemedicine in Tamil Nadu

To promote Telemedicine, a hybrid program, themed “Telemedicine – the Untapped Potential” was organized by the Telemedicine Society of India (TSI) – TN Chapter, at The Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University in Guindy, Chennai on November 19, 2021. This event was supported by TeleOphthalmology Society of India (TOSI) and Tamil Nadu Ophthalmic Association (TNOA).

The online conference commenced with Dr. K. Selvakumar introducing the event and welcoming everyone. This was followed by brief lectures on History and Definition of Telemedicine by Prof. Dr. K Ganapathy; Modes of Communication, Bandwidth by Dr. S Dheeraj Krishnaa; and Mobile Health by Dr. Sheila John.

Next, Dr. Sunil Shroff walked the audience through Telemedicine Practice and Guidelines from Government of India in detail, to help them easily understand the subject, and a lecture on Producing a “Wow” effect – Using Telemedicine by Prof. Dr. K Ganapathy followed.

The guest of honour for the occasion was Dr. J Radhakrishnan IAS – Health Secretary of Tamil Nadu. The formal welcome address was delivered by Dr. Sunil Shroff, President – TSI TN Chapter and Dr. Sudha Seshayyan – Vice Chancellor, The Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University delivered the inaugural address. Dr. J Radhakrishnan IAS spoke in brief about the future of Telemedicine and highlighted its effectiveness during the pandemic. Special addresses by Dr. Mohan Rajan and Padmashri Dr. S Natarajan were followed by vote of thanks by Dr T Senthil.

After a short break, Dr. Ikramullah moderated a Panel Discussion on Specialty Practice in Telemedicine, featuring the following TSI members as speakers:

  • Dr. Senthil
  • Dr. Sheila John
  • Dr. Vidya Ramkumar
  • Dr. Lovelena Munawar and
  • Dr. Kim R

Dr. Sunil Shroff briefed about the courses in Telemedicine that are going to be offered in the near future. Dr. Masood Ikram chaired a session on How to Set up Telemedicine in your Practice.
Dr. Natarajan presented his key note address on “Teleophthalmology for Blind-Free Tamil Nadu 2025.” A second panel discussion on Promoting Telemedicine in Tamil Nadu was moderated by Dr. Natarajan and the speakers were:

  • Dr. Kim R
  • Dr. Ganapathy
  • Dr. Prabhu Rajagopal and
  • Dr. Selva Kumar

The final segment featured participant discussions and the concluding remarks were delivered by Mr. D. Satheesh Kumar.

Name Affiliation
Dr. K. Selvakumar Prof and Head Neurosurgery, SRMC and RI (Retd)
Past President Telemedicine Society of India
Dr. K. Ganapathy Director Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation
Hon Distinguished Professor
The TN Dr MGR Medical University
Dr. S Dheeraj Krishnaa Head Telemedicine – Star Health Insurance
Dr. Sheila John Head Teleophthalmology Sankara Nethralaya
Dr. Sunil Shroff President TSI TN Chapter
Senior Consultant Urologist & Transplant Surgeon
Madras Medical Mission Hospital, Chennai, India
Dr. Mohan Rajan President TNOA
Padmashri Dr. S Natarajan Chief Clinical Services Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital Mumbai
Chief Vitreo Retinal Services Dr Agarwal’s Group of Eye Hospitals
Visiting Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology, The TN MGR Medical University
President Teleophthalmology Society of India
Dr. T. Senthil Treasurer TSI TN Chapter
Dr. Ikramullah   Vice President TSI TN Chapter
Dr. Masood Ikram MD – Mellon AI

Documentation for Teleconsultations

Documentation for Teleconsultations

Anay Shukla
Founding Partner, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm
Eshika Phadke

Associate, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm

 

The legal significance of well-maintained medical records cannot be emphasized enough. Especially for telemedicine where the jurisprudence is still in its primitive stages, it is of utmost important for doctors to maintain detailed records of their teleconsultations.

The Telemedicine Practice Guidelines 2020 specify the minimum information that must be documented in a patient’s telemedicine records. In this article, we outline the mandatory information that should be recorded, as well as additional best practices to ensure maximum legal protection.

Patient’s Location
It is advisable to record where the patient is located at the time of consultation. In the event that the patient is situated in a place where the doctor is not licensed to practice, he/she should refrain from continuing with the consultation, and should advice the patient to seek medical advice from a licensed professional. If the patient is a regular patient of the doctor who is temporarily located outside of the area where the doctor is licensed, the doctor may, if he deems necessary, proceed with the consultation, and should note down the peculiarity of the situation in the patient’s records.

Patients Consent
Explicit consent must be sought from the patient if the consultation is being initiated by anyone other than the patient (such as a relative, friend, another doctor or a health worker). The doctor may elect to have the patient state his/her consent during the consultation or send their consent via email, text message or an audio/video recording.

If the patient is a minor or mentally incapacitated, a guardian or caregiver may consent on their behalf. The identity of such person should be ascertained and recorded along with the consent.

If the doctor wishes to record the sessions, explicit written consent must be sought from the patient for recording and storing the session.

Patient information
If the doctor requests any identity or age proof in the course of the consultation, details of the same should be noted. The doctor must maintain records of the patient’s case history, doctor’s notes, investigation reports, images, etc that they rely upon to arrive at a diagnosis or treatment plan.

If the patient shares information about pulse, blood oxygenation, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc which they/their caregivers have recorded, it is advisable to record what device was used for measuring the levels.

Logs
The doctor should record how the consultation was carried out, and maintain the logs of the same for future reference.

During the course of the consultation, if the doctor deems that it is necessary to change to another mode of consultation (from text/audio to video or in-person), the reasons for same should be recorded. If the patient refuses, the doctor should be sure to capture the same in their records.

Prescriptions
The doctor may either issue a signed paper-prescription and share a photograph or scanned copy of the same, or issue an e-prescription. A recommended format has been annexed to the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines. The doctor must maintain copies of all prescriptions that are issued as he/she would for in-person consultations.

Comprehensive Records
Note that if the teleconsultation is taking place across various mediums (for example, the initial discussion over voice call, prescription for pathology tests issued over text message, results shared via email, etc), the doctor should ensure that copies of all communications and records are stored in a common folder, along with any records from in-person consultations, so that the records for the patient are complete and easily accessible.

The background to the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines 2020 specifies that one of the key advantages to telemedicine is a higher likelihood of maintenance of records and written documentation. Thus, while it may seem cumbersome to maintain detailed records of telemedicine consultations, the law expects meticulous documentation.

 

e-Newsletter November 2021

Telehealth Newsletter

Official Newsletter of Tamil Nadu Chapter of Telemedicine Society of India

What is New?

This issue covers the highlights of the annual conference of TSI – TELEMEDICON 2021 that happened in Hybrid mode at Lucknow. Most registrations were for the online mode of the meeting.

The annual general body meeting and the elections too took place virtually. The new office bearers of TSI are as foilows –

President – Prof. Prasanta Kumar Pradhan

Immediate Past President – Colonel (Dr) Ashvini Goel (Retd)President

Elect – Dr. Meenu SinghVice President – Dr. R. Kim

Chief Operating Officer – Mr. B.S BediHon.

Secretary – Dr. Murthy Remilla. L.N

Jt. Secretary – Ms. Bagmishika Puhan

Treasurer – Mr. Repu Daman

Executive Members
Dr. K. Sudarshan
Dr. Umashankar
Dr. Uma Nambiar
Dr. Suchitra Mankar
Ms. Indiritta Singh D’Mello
Dr. Sunil Shroff
Dr. Krishnakumar

Thank You
Dr. Sunil Shroff
Chief Editor
President – TN Chapter – TSI


School of Telemedicine & Biomedical Informatics, SGPGIMS, Lucknow hosted the 17th International Conference of Telemedicine Society of India from 12th Nov. to 14th Nov. 2021. It was an annual conference of the Telemedicine Society of India being held every year in different parts of the country to create awareness, sharing new experiences and learning from each other in the field of telemedicine and digital health.First Day i.e. 12th Nov. 2021, the event started at 9.00 AM with welcome note of the Prof S.K. Mishra, Chairman, Local Organizing Committee, TELEMEDICON2021. First session was devoted only for beginners of Telemedicine where Prof. B.N. Mohanty, Prof. Jayant Mukhopadhya, IIT, Kharagpur, Prof. Meenu Singh, PGIMER, Chandigarh and other 46 National speaker, 20 Chairs & panelist shared their experiences…Readmore


Documentation for Teleconsultations

Anay Shukla
Founding Partner, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm
Eshika Phadke

Associate, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm

 

The legal significance of well-maintained medical records cannot be emphasized enough. Especially for telemedicine where the jurisprudence is still in its primitive stages, it is of utmost important for doctors to maintain detailed records of their teleconsultations.The Telemedicine Practice Guidelines 2020 specify the minimum information that must be documented in a patient’s telemedicine records. In this article, we outline the mandatory information that should be recorded, as well as additional best practices to ensure maximum legal protection….Readmore


Promoting Telemedicine in Tamil Nadu

To promote Telemedicine, a hybrid program, themed “Telemedicine – the Untapped Potential” was organized by the Telemedicine Society of India (TSI) – TN Chapter, at The Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University in Guindy, Chennai on November 19, 2021. This event was supported by TeleOphthalmology Society of India (TOSI) and Tamil Nadu Ophthalmic Association (TNOA)The online conference commenced with Dr. K. Selvakumar introducing the event and welcoming everyone. This was followed by brief lectures on History and Definition of Telemedicine by Prof. Dr. K Ganapathy; Modes of Communication, Bandwidth by Dr. S Dheeraj Krishnaa; and Mobile Health by Dr. Sheila John.. …Readmore


 

Telemedicine Practice Guidelines – A Foundation Course for RMPs by TSI

To know more about the Telemedicine Foundation Course click on the link below:
https://tsi.org.in/courses/


Telemedicine – News from India & Abroad

India

First step towards safer and efficient health records

The world is undergoing a tremendous digital transformation, much accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, it contemplates providing a seamless flow of information through a digital healthcare infrastructure… Read More

Using Artificial Intelligence to Diagnose Blood Diseases

Artificial intelligence has the potential to boost the method of diagnosing blood diseases using optical microscopes, according to a finding in the journal Blood. Every day, cytologists around the world use optical microscopes to analyze and classify blood cells…. Read More

 

International

New Robotic Device Improves Health Rehabilitation

A robotic device is developed by Inrobics that provides an innovative motor and cognitive rehabilitation service that can be used at health centers as well as at home. The entrepreneurial team has developed a platform made up of four elements…. Read More

Brain Diseases can be Detected by Eye Movements

Using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop an eye tracker that analyzes images from MRI brain scans to recognize patterns that are shared across people is developed by scientists… Read More

 


TN – TSI invites all the TSI Chapters and Members to submit information on their upcoming Webinar or Events (50 words), News related to Telemedicine (200 words) or short articles (500 words) for the monthly e-newsletter.

Guidelines for submission to TN TSI Newsletter-

  • Report can be from 500 to 600 words
  • Report Should be relevant to Telemedicine or Medical Informatics
  • No promotion of self or any product
  • Avoid plagiarism
  • All references should be included
  • Provide any attributions
  • Visuals are welcome including video links
  • Send full authors name, degrees, affiliations along with a passport sized photograph of good resolution. If multiple authors only main author photo to be sent.

Submission may be sent to – tsigrouptn@gmail.com
Editors reserve the rights for accepting and publishing any submitted material.

Editor in Chief – Dr. Sunil Shroff
Editors – Dr. Senthil Tamilarasan & Dr. Sheila John
Technical Partner- www.medindia.net

 

History of Teleophthalmology at Sankara Nethralaya

History of Teleophthalmology at Sankara Nethralaya

Dr. Sheila John
Head of Teleophthalmology and E-Learning Department,
Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai.

 

 

 

Teleophthalmology holds great potential to improve the quality, access, and affordability in health care. For patients, it can reduce the need for travel and provide the access to a super-specialist. Ophthalmology lends itself easily to telemedicine as it is a largely image based diagnosis. The rapid progress achieved in the field of Telecommunications renders Teleophthalmology easily feasible.

HOW IT BEGAN -2002
A pilot project was started by Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai, linking two of its eye care centers that were separated by a distance of 3 km. A junior ophthalmologist at the distant center examined about 100 patients, and has their medical information transferred to the Sankara Nethralaya main hospital by LAN over a fiber optic cable. After looking at the images, a senior ophthalmologist at Sankara Nethralaya diagnosed and discussed the treatment modalities with the junior consultant.

The next step, which was accomplished in 2002, was to link Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital, Chennai, with Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital at Bangalore. The Bangalore branch located 400 km away from Chennai is headed by a vitreo-retinal consultant. Patients who required secondary consultations were subjected to routine examinations and their images were captured and sent to Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai.

A unique teleophthalmology project was started in villages within a 100 km radius of Chennai with a mobile bus offering primary eye care. It was inaugurated by the former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, in 2003. The key to the project was a mobile bus, designed by a team from Sankara Nethralaya with assistance from the Indian Space Research organization.

The Mobile teleophthalmology unit has expanded its services all over India.

Rural Mobile Teleophthalmology units in five States of India.

ISRO mobile unit at Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh inaugurated on 10th Oct 2003
World Diabetic Foundation mobile unit at Karnataka inaugurated on 7th Oct 2005
M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation mobile unit at Tamil Nadu (Thanjur and Thirunelveli districts) started on 24th April 2007
Vidarbha mobile unit at Maharashtra started on 7th October 2007
Kolkata Teleophthalmology -Inauguration on Jan 23 2009

Central Hub- Procedure
The selected patients have their slit lamp anterior segment, diffuse illumination, slit photos, and usually their non-mydriatic fundus photos taken inside the bus. Patients who subsequently have findings in the fundus are dilated and photographs are taken again. Patients who have squint or other extra ocular problems are also photographed with a digital still camera capable of taking external photographs with zoom capability. Telecommunication between rural camp and Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai is achieved by satellite connection through VSAT, which has a bandwidth of 384 Kb/ps. Now presently we are using internet connectivity with bandwidth of 512 kb/ps to 1Mpbs.

The senior ophthalmologist at Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai examines the images received and comes to a provisional diagnosis. An anterior segment video may be requested in special situations. Demonstration of extra procedures like eye movements may also be requested. The ophthalmologist maintains electronic medical records of all the patients, segregates interesting cases, maintains a file for discussion with peers or seniors, and is involved in the training of fellow ophthalmologists, paramedical ophthalmic assistants, and nursing staff in rural and semi urban areas. During the course of the teleconsultation, the ophthalmologist counsels the patient about familial eye diseases, preventive aspects and eye care.

Expert Opinion and Tele-Continuing Medical Education
Sankara Nethralaya has worked with other hospitals to spread the concept of Teleophthalmology for second opinion for diagnosis of sick patients , this includes the Southern Railways Eye Hospital, Perambur, G P Pant Hospital, Andaman & Nicobar Island , Shri Ganpati Nethralaya, Jalna, Maharashtra, Sri Sankaradeva Nethralaya, Guwahati , Assam and SN, Kolkatta. We are also connected to many institutions through the online mode for -Continuing Medical Education.

Dr. S. S. Badrinath, Chairman of Sankara Nethralaya was the first president of the Telemedicine Society of India.

Presently, the rural mobile teleophthalmology units at Tamilnadu and Kolkata are functioning and have examined more than more six lakh patients. Other units have been transferred to other ophthalmologists in the respective states to implement the program. Due to Covid19 and social distancing, tele counselling and teleconsultations have been implemented for paying patients from April 2020 till date and more than 10,000 patients have benefitted.

Informed Consent for Telemedicine

Informed Consent for Telemedicine

Anay Shukla
Founding Partner, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm
Eshika Phadke

Associate, Arogya Legal – Health Laws Specialist Law Firm

 

The developments in the field of information technology have resulted in geographic borders becoming increasingly redundant. Within the healthcare system, this has had a marked impact on the access that patients have to medical care since it is becoming increasingly common for doctors to consult a patient remotely. The Telemedicine Practice Guidelines have re-affirmed that inter-state teleconsultations within India are lawful and permitted.

However, the liberty to practice across country lines is not without limitation; international consultations are still restricted by geographic boundaries. The Telemedicine Practice Guidelines, 2020 explicitly excludes consultations outside the jurisdiction of India.

What amounts to practise of medicine? Would telemedicine be included?
Practising medicine involves any or all of the following: diagnosing, treating, operating or prescribing medicines or other remedies for any ailment, disease, injury, pain, deformity, or physical condition. Irrespective of whether such activity takes place in person or remotely through a teleconsultation, it would amount to the practise of medicine.

What is eligible to practise medicine?
To be eligible to practice medicine (including offering teleconsultations) in India, a doctor must be registered with the National Medical Commission (erstwhile Medical Council of India) or a State Medical Council.

Similarly, it is safe to assume that the other countries may have laws which restrict who can practice medicine in those countries.

Whose location is relevant for determining the license requirements?
A frequently asked question is whether the doctor is required to be licensed in the jurisdiction where he/she is physically located, or where the patient is located. However, the issue is quite nuanced, and there is no clear cut answer.

It is important to understand that the laws that regulate medical professionals and services typically envisage a scenario where both parties are located in the same room. While some countries, including India, have come up with guidelines that specifically address remote consultations, these guidelines are still in tune with the parent laws for medical professionals and services, and do not have the power to confer the right to a medical practitioner who is not duly licensed in that region to practise medicine. Thus, while the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines endorse a doctor’s right to practise pan-India irrespective of which state medical council they are registered with, it does not give them the authority to practise in a territory where the regulator has no jurisdiction whatsoever. In the Indian context, if a patient was aggrieved and wanted to complain against a doctor, he/she would still be able to approach the medical council of the state where the doctor is registered. However, if the doctor was registered with an authority in another country, the patient would not be able to approach the NMC/state medical council to seek relief. The patient would be rendered helpless. Thus, the law may be interpreted in a way to support the patient, and take a position that the doctor who offers teleconsultation should be licensed to practice medicine in the place where the patient is located.

Are cross border second opinions permitted?
A doctor or patient may, in the course of a consultation or treatment plan, deem that it would be advisable to seek a second opinion from a specialist located overseas. It is important to note that, in such cases, the consultation takes place between two doctors (and not between a doctor and a patient located in different jurisdictions). The doctor who has been approached for a second opinion discusses the case with the treating doctor, and provides his/her inputs to the treating doctor. It is up to the treating doctor to evaluate all the information and provide suitable advice to the patient. The doctor who is providing the second opinion is not practising medicine per se, and is thus not bound by the borders imposed by his/her license.