E-consultations can largely help decrease visits to the hospital in the COVID-19 scenario: Dr Shraddha Deshpande

“Nothing champions human life,” says Dr Shraddha Deshpande, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Wockhardt Hospital Mumbai Central. With the current emphasis being social distancing, and with the nation reeling under lockdown, “there are some conditions that require urgent attention,” she says. Dr Deshpande’s primary interest is in Aesthetics – both surgical and non-surgical – with more focus on breast surgeries and reconstructive procedures. She is also experienced with onco-reconstruction, trauma, burns, facial fractures and paediatric plastic surgeries. She shares more with Aesthetic Medicine on the current COVID-19 scenario, online consultations and the post-lockdown approach.

Are the OPDs at Wockhardt hospitals functional?

Our OPDS are functional. In the lockdown period, we are currently seeing patients with emergency cases like trauma, burns and glass injuries or cases that require urgent medical attention like painful cysts or non-healing wounds. Our hospital is screening every person entering the premises. Special arrangements have been made for staff transportation. Vigilant personnel protection is being carried out. Separate entrance has been created for suspected COVID-19 patients. As a tertiary care hospital, all due precautions are being taken to ensure smooth running of medical care of non-COVID-19 patients as they too are our priority.

How are you coping with the current situation of COVID-19?

Nothing champions human life. Currently it is important to identify the conditions that require urgent attention and conditions that can wait for treatment later. It is important to keep our ethics in centre and commerce aside and work in the interest of our patients and overall community as well. Clinical business will have a short-term impact, but we should be able to recover on a long-term basis.

Are you conducting online consultations? How are you maintaining communication with your patients?

Yes, we have an online consultation facility here at Wockhardt hospital. Patients can fix prior appointments with us where they can get their various queries resolved. It also helps us identify the patient who requires urgent medical care. I have always been in contact with my post-operative patients from various countries through WhatsApp and E-mail. They keep sending me photos of their progress.

What are the challenges involved in e-consultations for doctors? Can any measures be taken to overcome these or control these?

E-consultations are both a boon and bane. They can allow the doctor to gauge the severity of the problem, understand the expectations of the patient and make a rough treatment plan. However, no patient examination can be complete without physical examination. Hence one needs to be extremely careful while prescribing medications in such a scenario. E-consultations should be treated more as a triage system to decide which patient needs to come down to the hospital for further treatment. Communication is always the key and limitations about an e-consultation should always be explained to the patient.

What is the approach going to be post the lockdown period?

Even post lockdown, screening of the patients will continue. E-consultations can help in a large way to decrease the number of visits to the hospital. Communication between primary healthcare providers, patients and tertiary care centres can streamline the use of our resources in the most optimum way and ensure a smooth functioning healthcare delivery system. This time is important for us to get our processes in place and follow systematic protocols for a better future in healthcare and well-being.

In the current situation, where the country is reeling under the COVID-19 scare, Dr Shraddha Deshpande shares an important message through Aesthetic Medicine. To view the same, click the linkhttps://youtu.be/nHG30BbUU4E