With an average of 10,000 consults being carried out per day, the Indian government’s telemedicine platform eSanjeevani has completed 700,000 consultations, the Health Ministry said on November 7. Of this, the last 100,000 consults were completed in the preceding 11 days. eSanjeevani had completed 300,000 consults on September 8, meaning that 400,000 consults have been carried out since.
In total, eSanjeevani has been rolled out in 23 states and four union territories including Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh recorded the the highest number of consultations; Tamil Nadu (231,391) and Uttar Pradesh (196,349) alone account for 60% of the 700,000 consults.
Each consult generates an e-prescription which can be used to buy medicines or avail diagnostic services. States such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu have already issued government orders to ensure that e-prescriptions are honoured, the ministry said.
Top three states carried out mostly doctor-patient consults
eSanjeevani offers two kinds of consults: doctor-to-patient and doctor-to-doctor. The top three states — Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Kerala — are carrying out mostly OPD i.e. doctor-to-patient consultations. In Tamil Nadu, only 18 consults our of over 230,000 were doctor-to-doctor consults. Similarly, only around 600 of over 196,000 consults in Uttar Pradesh were doctor-to-doctor consults; just three of the 53,547 consults in Kerala were doctor-to-doctor.
On the other hand, in the next three states, i.e. Himachal Pradesh (97.7%), Andhra Pradesh (82.4%), and Madhya Pradesh (96.1%), most of the consults were doctor-to-doctor. In total, these states carried out roughly 43,718 consults, 32,611 consults, and 29,738 consults, respectively.
Some other states, which have conducted far fewer consults, have deployed eSanjeevani purely for doctor-to-doctor consults. These include Rajasthan (all 5,927 consults were doctor-to-doctor), Manipur (2,602), Jharkhand, (2,088) among others. In Jammu and Kashmir, where mobile internet speeds are restricted to all but two districts, 210 doctor-to-patient consultations have been carried out till date.
Doctor-to-doctor consultations were rolled out in November last year, as part of the Ayushman Bharat Health & Wellness centre program, with the aim being to offer teleconsults in all 1.5 lakh HWCs by December 2022. With the COVID-19 pandemic picking up in India, and the subsequent notification of the telemedicine guidelines, doctor-patient consults were rolled out in April.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is working with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (Mohali) to add new functions to eSanjeevani in consultation with state administrations. eSanjeevani was developed by CDAC Mohali, an attached office of the IT Ministry.
In September, the Health Ministry had disclosed that ₹100 crore was allotted to eSanjeevani for the current financial year. Three states account for nearly half of the allotment: Karnataka (₹21.87 crore), Madhya Pradesh (₹15.13 crore), and Haryana (₹10.69 crore), amounting to ₹47 crore. eSanjeevani, which began scaling up as the pandemic hit, is implemented at the state-level under the National Health Mission. NHM has provided implementation guidelines for matters such as the IT infrastructure needed at hubs & spokes, and personnel needed to conduct telemedicine. States accordingly request financial support from the centre under the NHM.