Enabling Access with Teleconsultation

Bridging the gap between quality eye care and patients, Orbis has rolled out the tele-ophthalmology consultation initiative at the Malbazar Green Vision Center in Siliguri, West Bengal, by leveraging the ease, efficiency, and outreach of telemedicine.

This teleconsultation facility is aimed at providing eye care facilities to patients in remote areas by virtually connecting them with ophthalmologists for diagnosis and treatment.

The patients who visit the primary vision centers are examined by the optometrists. Depending on the requirement of further examination and treatment of the patient, the patient is referred to the ophthalmologists who may be stationed at a tertiary hospital and examines them virtually. This is achieved by giving the ophthalmologist access to a real-time view of the slit lamp examination of the patient. Based on the virtual diagnosis, the ophthalmologist may prescribe the medication or treatment plan.

The citizens are still acquainting themselves with the concept of teleconsultation which brings its own set of challenges that need to be addressed. Patients often have concerns regarding the accuracy of the diagnosis done via the virtual presence. Through its efforts, Orbis has attempted to dispel the fears and myths enshrouding the teleconsultations by creating a real clinic environment, wherein, the ophthalmologist has access to, along with the real time slit lamp view, the patient history and clinical assessment details captured by the Vision Technician/Optometrist. The patients can also interact with the doctor. This instils trust and comfort among the patients and facilitates a conducive environment for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Initiated in March 2022, this pilot project aims to enable and increase access to medical facilities in remote and rural geographies. It is an extension of the Integrated Community Outreach Module (ICOM) which is a comprehensive technological solution to enhance the impact of outreach activities. Taking the learnings from the pilot, the initiative has been envisaged to be scaled up and replicated across some of the Vision Centers in Nepal.

Tele-ophthalmology has been known to lower the barriers that patients face in accessing medical care. Particularly during the pandemic, teleconsultations have been a boon to citizens in remote and underserved communities, by reducing the footfall of patients in hospitals, thereby, preventing transmission of diseases; it is cost-effective, and saves on the time and effort involved in travelling to tertiary hospitals from remote areas. This would close the gap between the number of patients in need of quick and reliable eye care and those who are able to avail it.

The teleconsultations also offer avenues for preoperative planning, consistent monitoring, and post-operative follow ups with the patients in remote and less accessible regions, which would enhance the quality of eye care they receive. Orbis’s intervention endeavours to leverage the efficiency and ease of access that telemedicine offers, and provide impetus in augmenting digital healthcare delivery.

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