According to local sexual and reproductive health experts, the facilities have also assisted in breaking prejudice and shame related to sexual and reproductive health, with an increasing number of patients feeling more confident in discussing sensitive matters with medical professionals. However, this may not be feasible long-term, they add.
Recently, Practo, an online teleconsultation application, released data that stated that there was a 184 per cent increase in the number of online consultations for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues in 2020.
“There has been an increase in pregnancies, both planned and unplanned, during the shutdown. I have had some patients ask if they can block the video when speaking to me,” said Dr Mathangi Rajagopalan, Senior Consultant, Rainbow Children’s Hospital.
On matters related to infertility, teleconsultations provide a good atmosphere to speak to patients, says Dr Spoorthi, Promed Hospital. “Many patients are embarrassed to come to the hospital for counselling – they avoid speaking to nurses and secretaries because of the stigma surrounding these issues. But that has changed, ” she said.
Even issues regarding menstruation are being discussed. “A lot of women who suffered from excessive bleeding and cramps during their periods are more likely to call and set up an appointment online. As a result of increased consultations, patients are more aware of their health,” said Dr Sura Pushpalatha, Gleneagles Global Health City.
Despite being so convenient for patients, doctors do not prefer online consultations. “If the situation is a follow-up or a second opinion, teleconsultations are useful. However, if the ailment needs it, we have to conduct a clinical examination, and this cannot be done online,” said Sura.