28-year-old Kamla Devi from Betalghat village in Nainital, can't stop thanking the "kampooter wale doctor saab" (an online doctor) for prescribing her medicines at the right time which saved her as well as her newborn's life.
It was possible through 'e-Sanjeevani OPD' - a free-of-cost online doctor consultation facility for the patients living in remote areas in Uttarakhand. Launched in April, the state government has also effectively used the service as a sustainable solution for COVID-19 patients' care while avoiding direct interface with doctors during the pandemic.
47-year-old Sanjay Bisht, a resident of Almora who had contracted the virus, was advised by doctors through the virtual consultation service that eventually helped him sail through the tough period. "I was scared and groping in the dark as there was a lockdown. Through the video consultation, the doctors prescribed me medicines and other health tips during my home-isolation," says Bisht.
While launching e-Sanjeevani OPD, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had described the service as a 'game-changer' in the healthcare industry. As of now, a total of 700 government medical facilities/institutions have been brought under the ambit of the telemedicine scheme benefitting over 29,000 people, mostly from the remotest corners of the hill state.
The network facilities include three government medical colleges, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, 36 district-level hospitals, 59 community health centres, 200 primary health centres and 305 health wellness centres across the state. According to officials, on average, over 150 people from the rural areas are benefitting from service every day.
Initially launched in three districts -- Nainital, Dehradun and Almora, the services now cover all 13 districts of Uttarakhand. The government is also planning to bring AIIMS-Jodhpur under the ambit of the scheme.
How it works
After logging on to esanjeevaniopd. in, one has to fill up personal details. The server then lines up an appointment based on symptoms described by the patient. Then, the patient is attended by the doctor through video conferencing and is provided with a prescription and medical advice. Doctors are available between 9 am and 6 pm.
"The scheme is aimed at providing medical facilities to the people who do not have access to health services. This has saved countless lives," says Sonika, managing director of the National Health Mission, Uttarakhand. In 2017, the former district magistrate of Tehri had also launched a medical helpline.
The healthcare workers are provided with a kit equipped with a tablet, an internet dongle, an ECG machine, a foetal heart rate monitor, a glucometer and a pulse oximeter, among others to help diagnose the patient. The service has also helped in setting up an appointment with specialists in case, the patient needed to travel to a hospital for treatment .
An ambulance is provided for the travel which saves time, money and other resources of the people l iving in remote areas. Ravi Kant, director of AIIMS-Rishikesh, said: "Patients have been seeking medical advice for coronavirus and other diseases since the service was launched. The institute has issued numbers for teleconsultations. The hospital has already provided online services over 12,000 people, especially those who are from far-flung areas."