- Private hospitals have started offering home quarantine packages for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms
- Chemotherapy and dialysis has also been arranged for vulnerable patients, who wish to avoid hospital visits
In the last few months, Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed a wave of paranoia amongst all sections of society and especially the eldery, who are suffering from comorbidities. They are unwilling to visit hospitals to undergo treatment for their chronic ailments, since they are at a high risk of contracting the Covid infection.
Under these circumstances, several private hospitals and home healthcare startups in the country are stepping up their game to provide home services.
For instance, Noida-based HealthCare atHOME is providing services such as ICUs, cancer care, step-down beds, nursing, physiotherapy, attendant services, medicine delivery, and elderly care in many homes across the country.
Private hospitals like Max, Medanta. Apollo and Fortis have also started offering home quarantine packages for those who show mild symptoms of Covid-19 and can be treated at home. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, eight out of 10 Covid-19 patients show none to mild symptoms.
Covid-19 Home Healthcare
According to the Health Ministry’s guidelines, mild cases of Covid-19 can be managed at homes that meet certain criteria like enough space, availability of a caregiver, and a link with a hospital. These cases suffer from mild symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, but no breathlessness or complications.
Mild case patients, according to the Ministry, require regular monitoring of temperature, vitals and oxygen levels.
Max Healthcare has launched a 15-day remote monitoring package for patients with mild symptoms in Delhi. As part of the package, the patient is provided with an essential medical kit that includes a thermometer and an oximeter, and daily monitoring of their vitals is conducted twice by a trained nurse on call.
In a press release, Group Medical Director, Max Healthcare, shared, “As many as 70 to 80 percent of coronavirus positive patients show no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. The recovery period for such patients is about 14 to 17 days if proper home isolation guidelines are followed. The patient-friendly, affordable packages monitor the health of patients, and also help prevent overcrowding at hospitals in the time of the pandemic.”
Dr Ritu Mittal Garg, Zonal Director, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, shared with The Blue Circle that these packages include tele-assistance and training on home isolation protocols. Besides, doctors can be consulted through video calls. There’s also psychologist and dietician consultation, app-based self-monitoring of temperature, heart rate and other symptoms, apart from relaying safety guidelines to the caregiver.
“We rolled out home isolation packages for Covid-19 treatment and received phenomenal response from patients who were comfortable healing at home. We followed all the ICMR guidelines, and got encouraging feedback from all these patients who received our home healthcare services. We are also getting requests to facilitate video consults; it is somewhat an extension of home healthcare,” she added.
Apollo Hospitals has launched a Covid-19 response plan ‘Project Kavach’ (meaning ‘shield’) that encompasses all aspects from information, screening and assessment, testing, to readying the infrastructure for quarantine and treatment.
“We have also introduced Stay I @HOME, which is a comprehensive program of medical care and advisory services that is required to take care of COVID-19 patients for complete 14 days of home quarantine period,” shared Dr. Mahesh Joshi, CEO, Apollo Homehealthcare, with TBC.
That’s not all – Bengaluru-based health startup, Portea Medical has partnered with Greater Chennai Corporation and the Government of Delhi for home isolation services for patients in these cities. Through detailed calls, patients are guided on how they must isolate themselves and manage their sanitisation and hygiene requirements.
Tackling non-Covid Patients
Dr Ritu shared that certain services like chemotherapy have also been arranged for vulnerable patients, who wish to avoid hospital visits as much as possible.
“There has been an uptick in demand and I think it’s here to stay. Patients are in a familiar environment and feel comfortable at home. Moreover, there are some conditions that can be managed at home, without patients’ lives being disrupted,” she added.
In the last few months, home healthcare service providers have witnessed an increase in calls seeking nursing services, care for ailments such as diabetes, and even flu, for which patients would have otherwise visited a hospital.
Dr. Mahesh pointed out that during the initial days of the pandemic, healthcare consumption was at its lowest (whether it was at hospitals, pharmacies or otherwise), due to severe panic amongst people. As the number of cases began to rise, hospitals turned into hotspots and discouraged non-Covid patients from making physical visits.
“People had options for tele-health but they started looking for more home options, especially for priority conditions like chemotherapy and dialysis. Moreover, the industry received a huge boost, after the government formally included home healthcare as a pathway for management of Covid,” he added, sharing that insurance companies have also started reimbursing Covid care through home healthcare.
This is a revolutionary step, since home healthcare was earlier never covered under the umbrella of insurance.
“Till now we believed that healthcare can happen only in hospitals, but this pandemic has strengthened community healthcare to a whole new level,” shared Dr.Mahesh.
A leader in home healthcare, Portea Medical has been addressing institutional healthcare issues right from the outset with its solutions and today is witnessing a surge in its home healthcare and telemedicine services.
“In fact, it would not be an understatement to say that the demand for our services has skyrocketed. Statistically speaking, the numbers have increased by up to 60% in some areas and there is a significant surge in the calls for consultation on our telemedicine helpline numbers compared to the pre-COVID days. The services that are most in-demand include chemotherapy and dialysis at home, apart from contactless healthcare for non-critical services such as minor ailments, fever, and health-related queries,“ shared Vaibhav Tewari, COO, Portea Medical, with TBC.
India’s home healthcare market has grown steadily over the years, with positive double-digit CAGR recorded during the period 2013-18. This growth trend is attributed to the increasing elderly population, prevalence of chronic diseases (even amongst the younger population), and increasing penetration of technology across the country.
The onset of regulations and measures to bring home healthcare services under the purview of insurance will help the market to grow further.
Dr.Ritu believes that this trend is only going to grow in the times to come, but shared some concerns.
“Video consults are going to grow irrespective because people who are busy at work or don’t want to step out can seek guidance from the comfort of their homes. In the case of the elderly population who suffer from chronic ailments like hypertension and neurological issues, who had to make visits more often, will now be more comfortable. But there’s a flipside too – we don’t want them to neglect physical visits. Home healthcare is more about the execution of the treatment line, but the review must be done physically in the hospital,” she shared, signing off.
(Edited by Anu Choudary)
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