Tele-consultations and electronic medical records driven remote patient care: Responding to the COVID-19 lockdown in India

Indian J Ophthalmol. 2020 Jun;68(6):1007-1012. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1089_20.


Purpose: To describe the experience of tele-consultations addressed at the centre of excellence of a multi-tier ophthalmology hospital network in India during the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

Methods: This cross-sectional hospital-based study included 7,008 tele-consultations presenting between March 23rd and April 19th 2020. A three-level protocol was implemented to triage the calls. The data of patient queries were collected using a Google Form/Sheets and the tele-calls were returned using the patient information retrieved from the electronic medical record system.

Results: Overall, 7,008 tele-calls were addressed, of which 2,805 (40.02%) patients where a clinical-related query was answered were included for analysis. The most common queries were related to redness/pain/watering/blurring of vision (31.52%), closely followed by usage of medications (31.05%). The majority of the queries were directed to the department of cornea (34.15%), followed by retina (24.74%). Less than one-fifth of the patients were from the lower socio-economic class (16.08%) and one-fourth were new patients (23.96%). The most common advice given to the patient was related to management of medications (54.15%) followed by appointment related (17.79%). Emergency requests requiring further evaluation by an ophthalmologist accounted for a small percentage (16.36%) of patients.

Conclusion: Tracking of tele-consultations and access to patient information from the electronic medical records enabled a timely response in an ongoing lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current experience provided valuable insights to the possibility of managing patient follow-up visits remotely in the future.

Keywords: COVID-19; India; electronic medical records; tele-consultation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Electronic Health Records / organization & administration*
  • Eye Diseases / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Special
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Quarantine*
  • Remote Consultation / methods*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult