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Digital health and rheumatology: The Indian context


1 Melange Communications Pte Ltd, Singapore
2 Centre for Rheumatology, Kozhikode, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Vinod Ravindran,
Centre for Rheumatology, Kozhikode - 673 009, Kerala
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/injr.injr_127_21

India as a country of contrast and diversity has witnessed digital evolution in different waves and stages. The technology is already an integral part of lives of millions in India; however, its application in the health management remains limited unlike developed economies. COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the country into universal, regional, or local lockdowns repeatedly since the last year. An unexpected and unforeseen impact of this has been the usage of technology for doctor–patient interactions through telemedicine. Hitherto limited to certain pockets, virtual interactions with doctors, ordering laboratory investigations through an application or procuring medicines through internet, are now part of mainstream patient behavior. This is a crucial change in the mindset but requires a lot more to be done at various levels to tap its full potential with rheumatologists being at the forefront and leading the change in their specialty. The pool of rheumatologists is very small and mostly concentrated in few urban areas, leading to diagnostic delay, suboptimal treatment, and poor outcomes. Technology could, therefore, become a catalyst for change and harbinger for greater clinician access. There are plenty of discussions about the impact and potential of deep learning, artificial intelligence, remote monitoring with wearables, etc., but plenty of them may not be relevant to Indian patients in the current scenario. Hence, the context, relevance, and applicability are the key for rheumatologists when making a judgment.


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