Indonesia to expand telemedicine service for COVID-19 patients outside Jakarta – Healthcare IT News

Credit: Indonesian Ministry of Health
The Indonesian government will be extending its free telemedicine service for COVID-19 patients outside its capital, Jakarta.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Accessible through a government website, the service is intended for asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 patients under self-isolation. The government has secured the cooperation of 17 health platforms to provide virtual care, including major telehealth players Halodoc and Alodokter. 
Other platforms that joined the service are Aido Health, GetWell, Good Doctor, Homecare24, KlikDokter, KlinikGo, Lekasehat, LinkSehat, Mdoc, Milvik Dokter, ProSehat, SehatQ, Trustmedis, Vascular Indonesia, and YesDok. The government has also tapped logistics startup SiCepat and pharmaceutical firm Kimia Farma for medicines delivery.
Eligible beneficiaries are those who tested positive after taking an RT-PCR test from a state-recognised laboratory. Following test confirmation, patients will receive a WhatsApp message from the Ministry of Health containing a link where they can book a free online consultation with a medical professional from one of its partner service providers. After a consultation, doctors will issue a digital prescription which patients can fill through another website and get free medicines. 
WHY IT MATTERS
On Monday, state officials announced that it is enforcing tight social restrictions in major urban centres, including greater Jakarta, Bali, Bandung and Yogyakarta, amid a third wave of infections caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
To prepare for a spike in positive cases, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said they will expand the government’s telemedicine service to greater Bandung, greater Solo, greater Semarang, Yogyakarta, greater Malang, and Denpasar this week. These areas are located in the three areas – Jakarta, Banten Province, and Bali, that have reportedly surpassed their highest daily count at the peak of the prior COVID-19 wave. 
THE LARGER CONTEXT
The Indonesian government has set up its free telemedicine service during the second wave of COVID-19 infections caused by the Delta variant last year. Alodokter and Halodoc were its first service partners providing free teleconsultations and medicines delivery. 
While currently less than a fifth of the total hospital beds allocated for COVID-19 patients have been occupied, the government is pushing those with no or mild symptoms, who reportedly make up 65% of patients in hospitals, to use telemedicine to help free up resources. 
As of Monday, Indonesia recorded a total of 4.5 million people sick with COVID-19 while it fully vaccinated over 130 million people.
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