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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 69  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 1234--1240

Observations in a Virtual Telephone and WhatsApp Video-Enabled Neurology Clinic During Lockdown in Varanasi, India – A Preliminary Report

Department of Neurology, Institute of Medical Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Varun Kumar Singh
Department of Neurology, Institute of Medical Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi - 221 005, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.329546

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Background: Globally, social distancing has been practiced during the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to prevent the transmission of the virus. One of the measures to ensure social distancing and restricting the movements has been national lockdown, to break the chain of transmission. Telemedicine is a cost-effective measure to provide medical services to remote underserved areas. Objective: The present study aimed to evaluate the efficacy and acceptability of teleconsultation as an alternative option to in-person consultation in providing continued medical care for neurology patients during the national lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Materials and Methods: The clinical demographic profile, frequency of different neurological disorders, and treatment details of the patients attending the teleneurology consultation (TNCO) outpatient department (OPD) at Sir Sunderlal Hospital (S.S.H.), Institute of Medical Sciences (I.M.S.), BHU, Varanasi, India, were recorded in a prespecified pro forma. Results: A total of 1,567 patients attended the TNCO OPD over 90 days. The average patient attendance was 35 per day, and 72% were males. Out of these, 77% of patients were from the same district, and the majority of patients (68%) were regularly followed up in-person by the neurology OPD. The most common illness for consultation was epilepsy (19%) followed by low backache and stroke (18% each). The satisfaction rate among the patients with respect to teleservices was high (90%). Conclusion: TNCO seems to be as effective as in-person OPD in the management of neurological disorders. During the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, avoiding physical visits through TNCO may reduce the spread of the virus. Parallel tele-OPD with routine OPD is a good option in the future.


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