Telemedicine during COVID-19 in India—a new policy and its challenges

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Journal of Public Health Policy


During the COVID-19 pandemic, a countrywide lockdown of nearly twelve weeks in India reduced access to regular healthcare services. As a policy response, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare which exercises jurisdiction over telemedicine in India, rapidly issued India’s first guidelines for use of telemedicine. The authors argue that: guidelines must be expanded to address ethical concerns about the use of privacy, patient data and its storage; limited access to the internet and weaknesses in the telecom infrastructure challenge widespread adoption of telemedicine; only by simultaneously improving both will use of telemedicine become equitable; Indian medical education curricula should include telemedicine and India should rapidly extend training to practitioner. They determine that for low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), including India, positive externalities of investing in telemedicine are ample, thus use of this option can render healthcare more accessible and equitable in future.

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