To relieve the strain placed on the Indian healthcare system by the current surge in coronavirus cases, the American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin (AAPI) and Sewa International have partnered with eGlobalDoctors (https://eglobaldoctors.com/#/) to provide medical advice for COVID-19 patients from India via telehealth. This online platform gives patients an opportunity to meet privately with volunteer medical professionals, who offer counseling with the aim of identifying those with mild or severe cases of infection.
According to the Chairman and Co-founder of eGlobalDoctors, Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, over 100 volunteer physicians from AAPI and “Doctors for Sewa” have been registered on the platform in the past ten days. In that time, the website has been visited more than 100,000 times, at least 2,000 patients have filled out the COVID-19 Registration Form, and 500 patients have already received medical counseling. More than 200 volunteers from the US and India are working together to follow-up with those who filled out the online form but were unable to show up at their scheduled consultation time.
Sewa volunteers have been instrumental in facilitating these one-on-one sessions, matching patients to doctors who speak the same language and placing them in a private breakout consultation room. “The Sewa team is helping connect volunteer physicians and patients by phone, especially those who do not have video access or capabilities of smart phones or access to the internet. Sewa’s work on the ground is streamlining the process by reaching the people who are most in need—even those from smaller, rural areas,” said Dr. Gangasani. “Indeed, patients have been logging on from all across India—from Jammu to Kolkata to Tamil Nadu,” he added.
According to Dr. Anupama Gotimukala, AAPI President-elect, teleconsultations began in Whatsapp groups and Zoom webinars before moving to the eGlobalDoctors platform, where over 1,000 patients are being counseled per day. Dr. Gotimukala said, “Doctors must guide patients daily for a week to ten days. In the system, a patient is registered and then they can offer timings and meet with the same physician on multiple dates, allowing us to follow-up with close care. The goal of telehealth is to treat patients remotely, using technology to help us. Doctors and patients can be at home, rendering services very efficiently. In some cases, an entire family can receive counseling at once.”
Through online counseling, physicians offer medical advice regarding triage, prognosis, and management protocol. Dr. Prasad Garimella said, “Our objective is to keep patients with mild symptoms out of the ER and identify those who need to go to the hospital sooner. Decreasing the burden on hospitals involves lowering panic and decreasing misinformation about the pandemic that patients might have.”