Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Health Sector can’t ignore Telemedicine’s Green Gains, study shows


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Teleophthalmology

Mains level: Technology in News; Significance of teleophthalmology

Why in the news? 

Recently a study by researchers at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad, has found that around 70-80% of people who visit an Eye Hospital can benefit from teleconsultations because their problems aren’t serious enough to require attention at a hospital.

Key points as report:

  • Telemedicine in High-Income Countries: Studies in high-income countries have shown that telemedicine is both patient- and environment-friendly for delivering healthcare services.
  • Carbon Emissions from the Healthcare Sector: According to the International Comparison of Healthcare Carbon Footprints analysis, India’s healthcare sector emitted 74 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2014, around 3% of India’s total emissions of the gas that year.
  • Carbon Neutrality in Healthcare: The healthcare sector should aim for carbon neutrality to mitigate its environmental impact. Teleophthalmology is cited as an efficient and effective tool to help achieve this goal, as demonstrated by the lead author’s remarks.

The teleophthalmology process:

What are Telemedicine’s Green Gains?

  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Teleophthalmology significantly reduces the need for patients, especially those from rural areas, to travel long distances to access healthcare services. This leads to a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, contributing to environmental sustainability.
  • Economic Gains: Teleophthalmology results in significant cost savings for both patients and healthcare systems. Patients save money on travel expenses
  • Easy Accessibility: Teleophthalmology improves access to eye care services, especially for individuals living in remote or rural areas where access to healthcare facilities is limited. It allows patients to receive timely consultations without the need for extensive travel.
  • Targeted Care Gains: Teleophthalmology is particularly beneficial for patients with minor eye problems like mild refractive errors or regular preventive eye check-ups. It enables healthcare providers to target specific demographics and deliver personalized care more effectively.

Conclusion: The recent study highlights teleophthalmology’s potential in reducing carbon emissions and improving accessibility to eye care, emphasizing its role in achieving carbon neutrality and delivering cost-effective, targeted healthcare services, particularly for minor eye issues.

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