HealthCare Global (HCG) has adopted a new feature Microsoft Teams, called Teams Virtual Consult, to ensure its patients continue to get the care they require from the comfort of their homes without putting their health at risk – a virtual cancer care.
“I’ve always felt we should minimize hospital visits for patients. With technology we can guide them on what is the right thing to do remotely and ensure they come to the hospital at the right time than unnecessarily make trips to the hospital,” says Dr BS Ajai Kumar, CEO and chairman, HealthCare Global (HCG).
HCG is India’s largest provider of cancer care that runs 24 comprehensive cancer centres across the country. Individuals undergoing cancer treatments are considered among the groups with increased risk of developing more serious complications from COVID-19. Due to a compromised immune system and no vaccine in place, the only way to stay safe is to avoid getting exposed to the virus.
So far, Indian medical laws mandated doctors to only do in-person consultations with their patients. However, with COVID-19 related restrictions, they have now allowed virtual consultations to ensure the safety of both frontline health workers and patients.
Virtual cancer care: How to…
Dr Ajai had started remote conferencing with oncologists across HCG’s centres since 2008 for their “Tumor Board” meetings every Tuesday where everyone discussed and exchanged notes on cancer cases. Even though they did not have high resolution video conferencing, his experience with those weekly meetings had convinced him that virtual consultations could make HCG’s work more impactful.
With the lockdown in place, HCG rapidly moved to Virtual Consults feature in Teams, that allows healthcare providers to schedule, manage, and conduct virtual visits with patients. Once a visit is scheduled within Teams, the patient receives a customized email with appointment details and a link where they can join the virtual appointment from their web browser or Teams mobile app.
While the current COVID-19 situation might have accelerated the move to virtual consultations for healthcare providers, for Dr Ajai and his team at HCG, this is just the beginning. They can already see how it can make virtual cancer care more affordable, especially for patients who come to them from other cities and even other countries.
“We might have accelerated the process due to the macro-environment, but this is a big game changer for HCG,” he says. “Think about our patients from Kenya, Iraq, or Vietnam. Why should they come here and stay for regular follow-ups if they can do virtual consultations? They should come to the hospital only when they are absolutely needed.”
First published on Microsoft Blog. Read the full article here.