Virtual Clinics: IMA Viewpoint
- In one of its judgment, Martin F. D’Souza vs Mohd. Ishfaq, 3541 of 2002, dated 17.02.2009, the Supreme Court has said that medicines should not be prescribed in a telephonic consult, unless it is an emergency. But this does not apply to counselling and advice. The Govt. of India runs helplines on mental health, tobacco cessation, child sexual abuse etc.
- ‘Virtual visit’ is a new trend today. It is available via video conferencing apps that can be downloaded to a smartphone, tablet or home computer.
- Patients can experience a ‘virtual’ visit with a qualified physician at any time, day or night. It’s not just a fad. The benefits go beyond triage. It’s a step towards remote, affordable, convenient primary health care.
- In the west, the cost can be half of in-person visit, and most insurance companies are now covering them. In the United States, Blue Cross policies, offer the services of their own virtual doctor free of charge. Medicare does not cover virtual visits. The cost of a virtual visit can be even less than the out-of-pocket co-payment that Medicare requires for an in-person doctor visit.
- In US, the consulting doctors are licensed, vetted and are assigned to the patient based on where he or she lives. They carry malpractice insurance and are authorized to order tests and prescriptions. However, without actually seeing the patient in person, they may not be able to evaluate the patient completely.