Tele-consultation appointments add to agony of patients at Chandigarh's PGI

Tele-consultation appointments add to agony of patients at Chandigarh's PGI

Naina Mishra

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2

As coronavirus cases surge in the city, the non-Covid services at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research are getting affected with a number of patients finding it difficult to get tele-consultation.

Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, who has been trying to book an appointment with the Blood Cancer Department from last two days, told Chandigarh Tribune, “I have been trying to book an appointment for tele-consultation from the last two days, but every time the route is busy.”

Another patient, Sushil, said he was unable to get an appointment for the neuro OPD as nobody responded on the given phone number.

Sushil claimed that he had been trying for an appointment for the last three months.

In pre-Covid times, on a routine day, over 10,000 people visited PGIMER OPDs, with over 5,000 reaching out through tele-consultation.

The OPDs were shut on March 19 last year, a day after the first Covid-19 case surfaced in the city.

Tele-consultation thus remains the initial point of contact between patients and doctors. Patients are evaluated first through tele-consultation and only those requiring further evaluation and examination are called to the OPD by appointment.

Dr Naveen Pandey, in-charge of the OPD Administration at PGI said, “The tele-consultation is open between 8 am and 9.40 am. We have one tele-consultation number with 21 lines. The institute registers over 2,500 patients through telephone. This means, one patient is registered through telephone every minute.”

“Those patients who face difficulty in registering through telephone can also register online, which is available 24X7,” said Dr Pandey.

On expanding OPD services, he said tele-consultation was time consuming in comparison to physical OPDs as doctors spend around 10 minutes on each patient. This includes sharing of reports over WhatsApp, etc.

The doctors are calling patients till 5-6 pm in the evening, and expanding OPD services seems difficult at the moment, he said.

Prof Jagat Ram, Director, PGI, said, “In days prior to Covid, OPDs at PGI witnessed a daily footfall of 10,000 to12,000. Catering to this mammoth load through tele-consultation is very tough, but we are trying our level best and reaching out to almost 50 per cent of our patient load, considering that over 4,500 to 5,000 patients are either given consultation over phone or through physical examination.”

“Though we have tried to increase the number of lines to facilitate patients, still there is a long way to go.”

“At times patients with routine health issues also want consultation at PGI. However, this being a tertiary care hospital, ideally, only those patients requiring tertiary care should be catered to. All this leads to patient load much beyond the expectations and hence any facilitation or service falls short of the demand,” he added.

 

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