Addiction Medicine and Smartphone-Based E-Consult During the COVID-19 Lockdown

A recent study illustrated how the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) Digital Academy, Bangalore, with the collaboration of Project ECHO worked throughout the pandemic to develop capacity for substance abuse disorder (SUD) management through telehealth, training over six thousand five hundred health care providers. The Centre of Addiction Medicine, NIMHANS initiated an e-consult portal between trained healthcare workers and Addiction Specialists, utilizing e-consult for its prompt guidance, contingency planning, and focused educational content.

The mobile e-consult allowed for upload of previous prescriptions and included questions related to provider information, patient consent, demographics, a summary of the case, and a specific query to the specialist. Specialists received real-time notification of the case submission through the mobile app and provided a recommendation along with a focused educational material through secured email. Over time, between case submission and sharing recommendation, response time averaged under 8 hours. Through this study, providers noted that with limitations in prescribing narcotic and psychotropic drugs through telemedicine, e-consult can enable the treating provider to deliver cost-effective and convenient care.