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Doctors’ availability and patient flow improve in states with fewer Covid cases: Survey

A survey by Indian Pharmaceutical Alliances finds lowest availability of doctors at their clinics in Gujarat (60%), Maharashtra (60%) and Delhi (62%).

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New Delhi: Availability of doctors at private clinics and hospital OPDs has improved in states with less Covid-19 case burden, found an internal survey conducted by the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliances (IPA).

The IPA is the country’s top lobby of domestic pharmaceutical companies, including Sun Pharma, Glenmark, Dr Reddy’s and Lupin.  

In the survey titled ‘State-Wise Analysis of Clinicians Practice’ published last week, the association has compiled the responses of its 15 member-companies and their field staff on the availability of doctors and inflow of patients.

The survey said the doctors’ attendance across the country had reduced severely due to the absence of staff, strict curfew measures and restricted movements. Some doctors were available but with lesser working hours of clinics. “Doctors were either working only for 4-5 hours or on alternate days in most states,” the survey said.

Also, there was low patient flow at clinics as patients were “avoiding medical establishments for fear of contracting Covid”.

Sudarshan Jain, secretary general, IPA, told ThePrint: “Covid-19 has impacted health services for non-communicable diseases.”

He added, “Patients will need to be given confidence on safety and would need to be encouraged to visit hospitals and seek consultation and treatment especially for non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease as many patients may not be able to manage their illnesses by themselves.” 

Also read: Covid test positivity rates, rising deaths indicate that India isn’t seeing the full picture

Doctors spending more time at clinics, OPDs 

The report, whose objective is to focus on issues contributing to lesser meeting frequency between medical representatives (sales team) of the companies and doctors, highlighted that the doctors are now spending more time — between 65-70 per cent — at their clinics, specifically in Karnataka and Kerala. 

In Karnataka and Kerala, the average time doctors are spending at clinics — assuming pre-Covid was 100 per cent — is 78 per cent and 80 per cent time, respectively. 

In other states, including Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Himachal Pradesh, doctors have been spending around 70 per cent of their time at clinics.

The lowest availability of doctors at their clinics are in states such as Odisha (58 per cent), Gujarat (60 per cent), Maharashtra (60 per cent) and Delhi (62 per cent). 

“Private clinics are open only during the day-time in many states and are working for comparatively lesser hours,” the survey said. 

Their average attendance at OPDs is also improving. The report pegs it between 65 and 70 per cent across India. 

“Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka have seen a return of clinicians (to OPDs),” the survey said.

Patient inflow improving

While the flow of patients in OPDs and clinics still remains half of what it was during pre-Covid days, the flow has improved significantly in Kerala, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

“Fear and anxiety of contracting Covid-19 in medical establishments has reduced the patient flow across the country. Restrictions in inter-state movement being lifted will slowly lead to an increase in patient flow,” the survey said. 

It showed the average patient flow — assuming pre-Covid was 100 per cent — is best in Kerala (around 75 per cent), followed by Goa (58 per cent) as both the states managed to keep their Covid infection numbers low.

The flow remains less than half, around 40 per cent, in states with high case load, including Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Odisha.

Also read: India’s Covid curve hasn’t ‘relatively flattened’. I compared govt data with other nations


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