By Aishwary Raj
The World Health Organization (WHO) in the “Global Burden of Disease Study” declared neurological disorders to be high-priority health issues. In India, neurological disorders—both fatal and non-fatal—are one of the main causes of non-communicable and communicable diseases. Most research conducted in India over the past three decades has revealed a high disease burden for specific illnesses like stroke, epilepsy, headaches, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. Although there are also sincere and focused efforts being made to offer widespread treatments. The Indian government has established welfare programmes, including the Ayushmann Bharat—Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna, to treat several diseases, and also neurological disorders. Further efforts have been made in terms of employing a trained workforce, educating the public through awareness campaigns, and using cutting-edge techniques like telemedicine to give patients the best and most affordable medical care.
Telemedicine and Neurology
Only by broadening the scope can the severe shortage of neurologists and neurosurgeons in emerging economies, particularly in suburban and rural areas, be addressed. Telemedicine can be used to successfully initiate this as it has become a norm since it was used in COVID-19 for the diagnosis and treatment of major diseases. However, it also has the potential to provide neurological services efficiently to those in need. Because telemedicine can eliminate the notion of distance and geography while providing vital neurological services to those living in rural areas, it can therefore be used to address the urban-rural health gap.
Making neurological assessment feasible
Telemedicine systems are now so sophisticated that the body language of single or multiple groups of people can be viewed at the same time. Even the tiniest facial expressions of the patient can be observed with utmost clarity. Furthermore, patients are always visible, making it similar to face-to-face meetings. Except for the fact that the patient and doctor are thousands of kilometres apart, the spontaneity, naturalness, and interactivity of a face-to-face meeting are still present.
Obtaining a high-quality video and transferring it with minimal data loss is vital in evaluating gait, reflexes and movement disorders. Furthermore, replaying a video of a teleneurological examination allows for a more in-depth examination of clinical signs. As a result, many neurological disorders can be managed with the help of telemedicine.
Reducing the hassle
Unnecessary travelling is avoided with telemedicine, allowing for much-needed family support at home. Even a detailed clinical examination can now be performed remotely, making it feasible, safe, and cost-effective. Telemedicine can now also be used in a variety of neuroscience sub-specialities as teleconsultation enables the rapid resolution of questions that would otherwise stress patients and increase the cost and complexity of care. Telemedicine has also been useful in rural emergencies because multidisciplinary collaboration can significantly reduce response time for acute stroke assessment.
Additionally, Interactive Video Conferencing can be used to conduct reliable motor assessments of Parkinsonian patients, and computer-mediated information and support systems can be a useful addition to Alzheimer’s disease support. Telemedicine is also a reliable method for assessing cognitive, functional, and behavioural functioning in the elderly with dementia and normal ageing. Additionally, it also aids in the implementation of therapeutic measures prior to patient transfer to major centres, thereby minimising needless transfers and workload.
All things considered
In addition to implementing cutting-edge technology, such as telemedicine for neurology, improving health outcomes in India requires a focus on health literacy. It is clear that even greater things are feasible with telemedicine and that more resources can be devoted to its development because of its capacity to scale up in times of emergency. Several state governments, as well as the Indian government, currently support the use of telemedicine. Additionally, The Telemedicine Society of India is also assisting in raising critical awareness.
The phenomenal rise in computing power, the exponential growth in ICT deployment, and the sharp decline in costs are creating the ideal environment for telemedicine to flourish in India. Furthermore, neuroscience experts across the board are gradually accepting the fact that telemedicine must and will have to be integrated into the heart of the healthcare delivery system.
(The author is a Neuro-Psychiatry, Tattvan E-Clinics. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)