Civic body starts virtual TB clinic for difficult cases
While the panel of doctors will provide opinions within 48 hours, the case studies will be discussed every month in a virtual conference as a knowledge sharing and skill-building exercise
Mumbai: The civic body has started a virtual tuberculosis clinic for stubborn, difficult to treat cases of the bacterial infection. The clinic will bring together senior doctors from medical colleges and other healthcare providers to tackle cases and prescribe the treatment without having the patient travel far.
While the panel of doctors will provide opinions within 48 hours, the case studies will be discussed every month in a virtual conference as a knowledge sharing and skill-building exercise.
“Doctors in TB centres often come across difficult, drug-resistant cases, some of them are of re-infections,” said Mumbai’s TB officer Dr Pranita Tipre. “Sometimes, the reports of such patients are so complicated that the doctors refer them to the nodal drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) centres. Not only do the patients have to travel far to get to the nodal centres, but there is also the risk of passing on the infection to others while travelling,” she said.
Mumbai has 24 DR-TB clinics including four nodal centres attached to medical colleges. According to Tipre, the virtual clinic will enable the other centres to reach out to a panel of doctors at the nodal centres and seek opinions on the cases they are struggling to treat.
The civic body will be using the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) platform for the virtual clinic. Developed at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Centre, the ECHO platform is being used by the Central TB Division in India since 2018. In addition to enabling video conferencing, the ECHO platform stores resource material, case studies and other data that can be accessed by the healthcare workers when needed.
Every month, one or two cases taken up by the panel of doctors in medical colleges through the virtual clinic will be discussed as a part of a knowledge-sharing conference that will be open for healthcare providers dealing with adult and paediatric TB cases. “These case studies can be referred to by doctors when they come across similar cases in the future. Eventually, this format and database will help in drastically reducing the referrals and patients can get treatment closer home,” said Tipre.
The executive health officer of the civic body, Dr Mangala Gomare said that the virtual conferences will be held once a month for adult cases and once in two months for paediatric cases.
Babu Entoor Ramachandran, general manager of ECHO programme (TB) in India said that the platform works with the aim of “moving knowledge, instead of patients and providers”. “The platform is being used in the field of viral hepatitis and mental health in India along with TB,” he said adding that it works as a hub and spoke model and is currently being used at more than 60 TB hubs across the country.