Experience with Tele nephrology during lockdown : A pilot study in a developing country
Introduction: Telemedicine is the delivery of health care and/or health information in nephrology using electronic systems. There is no previous experience in Tele nephrology from developing countries with limited resources like India.
Aims: This single centre prospective study to assess the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of Telenephrology services for regular follow up as well as for triaging patients for admission in setting of a countrywide lockdown.
Methods: The study period was the lockdown period in the country from 23rd March to 31st May. The patients were informed about the availability of Tele nephrology services through text messages sent form our patients data base as well through Social Media like Facebook and WhatsApp. The patient data was stored in Electronic Medical records (EMR) using the Health plix platform. A combination of WhatsApp and EMR database was used to provide telemedicine services during the lockdown period. On receiving the request, a formatted message was sent requesting for information seeking current concerns by the patient, weight, vital signs including blood pressure records as well as current and previous investigations. The data was entered in EMR and electronic prescription generated. This was emailed or Whatsapped as per patient preference. At the end of the e-consult the patient was asked to rate his experience on a scale of 0 to 10.
Results: During the study period a total of 477 e-consults were given. of these 466 consults were for domestic patients and 11 were for international patients. The study group comprised of 277 patients and there were 184 males and 93 females. Of these 271 were from India and 6 were international patients. The mean age of the patients was in 41.74 years (range 0.17 – 94 yrs).