The Union Health Ministry’s  eSanjeevani platform, which offers free telemedicine consultations with doctors, has provided 2 lakh consults so far, the Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. Of this, Tamil Nadu accounted for the highest, over 56,000 consultations, followed by Uttar Pradesh with over 33,000 consultations. Andhra Pradesh (29,400), Himachal Pradesh (26,535), and Kerala (21,433), the Ministry said.

The platform offers two types of teleconsults — Doctor-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani) and Patient-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani OPD). The former was implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWC), and aims to implement teleconsultation in 150,000 Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs). eSanjeevaniOPD was launched in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. Before that, the Ministry had notified the Telemedicine Guidelines 2020 in May, allowing doctors to consult patients via phone, video, and chat applications including telemedicine platforms and WhatsApp.

Andhra Pradesh led in having the most HWC-medical college interactions with 25,478 consultations while Tamil Nadu led in the OPD services with 56,346 consultations, the Ministry said, adding that eSanjeevani had been implemented so far by 23 states, and others are in the process of rolling it out.

Incidentally, eSanjeevani OPD was among the five teleconsultation services which was available on the now defunct, Aarogya Setu Mitr portal. The portal aggregated services providing delivery of medicines COVID-19 teleconsultations, and home sample collection for lab tests, apart from teleconsultation services. It was launched as a public-private partnership facilitated by the government’s Principal Scientific Advisor and NITI Aayog, with “voluntary participation” from organisations, industry coalitions, and startups. The portal was linked to Aarogya Setu, the government’s exposure notification app.

However, in response to a writ petition filed by Delhi-based South Chemists & Distributors Association, the central government suspended the Aarogya Setu Mitr portal in June. The association had alleged that the website acted as a marketing tool for only e-pharmacies, and did not mention the local brick-and-mortar pharmacies. It had sought direction that the name “Aarogya Setu” not be misused to sponsor the commercial interests of “arbitrarily hand-picked entities”.

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