India has crossed yet another milestone in its e-health journey. National telemedicine initiative, e-Sanjeevani has crossed 3 million (30 lakh) consultations as of 17th March 2021. e-Sanjeevani platform is operational in 31 States/Union Territories and daily, over 35,000 patients across the country are using this innovative digital medium to seek health services. The first of its kind, e-Sanjeevani has brought a digital transformation in the delivery of quality health services at a national scale. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, eSanjeevani proved its usefulness and easy accessibility while boosting the digital health ecosystem in the country.
Towards a holistic digital health system in India
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), telemedicine is the delivery of health care services in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities, where distance plays a critical factor. The telemedicine service platforms in India by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, ‘e-Sanjeevani’ and ‘e-Sanjeevani OPD’ was developed in November 2019 by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). The platform aimed to improve access to health services that had been severely curtailed during the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
In a short period, India’s National Telemedicine Service has started aiding the Indian healthcare delivery system by bridging the gap that exists in urban and rural India. It is also addressing the shortage of doctors and specialists at the ground level while reducing the burden on secondary and tertiary level hospitals. In line with the National Digital Health Mission, eSanjeevani is also boosting the digital health ecosystem in the country.
e-Sanjeevani : Approaches & Operations
The National Telemedicine Service comprises two variants of e-Sanjeevani :
eSanjeevani AB-HWC (Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres), a doctor to doctor telemedicine system, which is being implemented under Ayushman Bharat Scheme, aims to carry out teleconsultation in all the 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres in a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model. States have identified and set up dedicated ‘Hubs’ in Medical Colleges and District hospitals to provide teleconsultation services to ‘Spokes.’ Since its rollout, over 1000 hubs and around 15000 spokes have been set up in various states. eSanjeevani AB-HWC has completed around 900,000 consultations.
eSanjeevaniOPD, launched amid the Covid-19 pandemic to enable patient-to-doctor teleconsultations, provides digital health services to the citizens through more than 250 online OPDs setups. This e-health service has made it convenient for people to avail health services at no cost, without having to travel. It enables two-way interaction and even generates a prescription slip. So far, over 21,00,000 patients have been served through eSanjeevaniOPD.
Digital Health Mission: Empowering doctors & patients
The quick and widespread adoption of eSanjeevani reflects that a significant proportion of outpatient visits can be managed remotely effectively. Patients with minor medical conditions are using eSanjeevani without having to expose themselves to the risk of being infected and without compromising the quality of care. Through this setup, India has embarked on a futuristic journey to fix its heavily burdened healthcare system with new digital healthcare models that have the potential to improve accessibility, affordability and quality of care.