INDIA UPDATE
June 2007

NEWS REVIEW – INDIA UPDATE

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ONGC Launches a Telemedicine Endeavour in Mumbai

The Oil & Natural Gas Corporation(ONGC) has recently inaugurated a pilot project of telemedicine network. The network extends from SLQ platform in Mumbai offshore to the Lilavati hospital, which is a famous hospital of India, located in north-
west Mumbai.

The network is named as Sagar Space Chikitsa, and it is geared to provide instant as well as critical healthcare to over 2500 personnel, who are stationed at 24 rigs and production platforms of ONGC.

The telemedicine solution will enable transfer of medical data from Mumbai offshore to specialists at the super-specialty Lilavati Hospital, who can then analyze them and provide the necessary clinical advice. The same medical data is also stored in a centralized server simultaneously, for reviewing and reporting later. This newly inaugurated telemedicine system will provide medical information and consultation across a gamut of fields in medicine, which includes cardiology, orthopedics and surgical.

It is expected that the establishment of this network will facilitate timely intervention and recovery process of these ONGC personnel, especially during the time of medical emergencies.

The telemedicine network will also be instrumental in reducing critical healthcare delivery times for its customers/ patients. The pilot project will be operational for three months, after which the project will be extended to all installations, which are having living accommodation at ONGC Mumbai offshore.

Healthcare BPO Education: India Ventures into the NEXT Age

NEXT,  a premier training  organization, that provides recruitment management services, and training in ITES, soft skills, communication and personality development,  has recently announced the launch of India’s first healthcare BPO education and training course. This training course has been aligned to the requirements of the healthcare BPO industry and aims to address a critical skill gap faced by professionals. The eligibility criteria include strong written English skills and a minimum qualification of the twelfth standard.

This certification course will span across 26 weeks and those eligible for the course can also apply for a loan from UTI bank, to be repaid through easy installment schemes.

The enrollments have begun with the first batch starting on 1 June 2007. Initially there are plans to start full time batches, and in due course, also introduce a part time option.

The course structure would include imparting knowledge on medicine and its terminologies, international hospital work culture and practices, behavioural training to understand and work with American communication styles amongst others. There are specialized modules in the training on medical claims processing, medical transcription, medical billing and coding as well as managing hospital accounts receivables.

According to Manoj Pachisia, the CEO of NEXT,  “Addressing the skill gap is of prime importance and it is this requirement that leads us to launching a targeted program. The training aims to provide a foundation program for BPOs engaged in telemedicine, clinical trials, medical transcription, billing and coding, claims processing and accounts receivables.

Through this we hope to raise the quality of talent pool of the future generation coming into this industry.”

Organizations such as Spheris India, which is an  important player in India’s healthcare BPO segment, view this as a step taken in the positive direction to address the skill shortage existing within the industry. According to Suresh Nair, CEO, Spheris India, “Introduction of the certification course has led us to elevate our longstanding partnership with NEXT and offer a guaranteed job to candidates upon successful completion of this program. This partnership is an effective filter, one that would allow us to maintain the highest quality of manpower in the industry. We would be looking to hire about 60 people from NEXT every month.”

Frost & Sullivan Plans medical summits in small towns

Frost & Sullivan is hosting a one-day, multi-city summit titled ‘Emerging Healthcare Hotspots�Addressing Opportunities and Challenges.’ The multi-city summit is being held on 21st July at Coimbatore, 8th August at Jalandhar, 25th August at Hyderabad and 6th October at Aurangabad.

The conclave aims to bring together all the key stakeholders, critical in the development of solutions for concerns emerging in the upcoming and future healthcare hubs, as well as providing a platform to leverage opportunities arising in these geographies. It will thus strive to bring together key decision makers from medical equipment companies, government regulatory bodies, corporate hospitals, mid-sized hospitals, and financial institutions to draw out a roadmap for combating the expected / arising challenges and allow for a smoother transition of opportunity utilization for all.

The Indian healthcare industry is in a  phase of  impressive growth for some time now. Future investments of around US $2-3 billion are expected in the next three years, and a growing focus on the country is on making it a destination for cost optimization of healthcare value chain components like setting-up innovation centers, design centers, healthcare service facilities and manufacturing services.

All these make the industry one of the most happening sectors in the country today. Early entrants, recent market participants and fence sitters are keenly eyeing this market for developing, penetrating and leveraging the immense opportunity it offers.

Simultaneous triggers from end-user demand, aggressive expansion plans by providers of services and equipments, significant initiatives through innovative reimbursement / insurance product launches by payers; and policy initiatives by the government are further aggravating the action in the health sector.

The most significant change is the evolution of Indian healthcare beyond metros and major cities to feed the growing need for standard / state-of-the-art healthcare across smaller cities and towns. As infrastructure development plans spill over into these emerging healthcare hubs, they result in growth in the demand for technologies and trained manpower.

Consequently, issues pertaining to investment options; equipment operations and maintenance; growth, expansion and retention of trained talent are expected to follow suit as well; thus creating new challenges in the adoption of healthcare standards in the emerging healthcare hubs.

Sony’s foray in high definition video conferencing is expected to aid telemedicine

Sony India Pvt. Ltd. has made a foray in high definition videoconferencing in India, through its launching of a new range of visual communication equipment for the Indian market. The equipment named PCS-HG90, is equipped with a 3CCD camera, which will enable it in videoconferencing. PCS-HG90, the latest addition to Sony’s IPELA range of IP-based products, uses HD video compression format and a maximum of video transfer rate of 8Mb/s, achieved over IP network. PCS-HG90 entails enhanced video and audio quality, in addition to safe and secure communication system within the country.

High definition videoconferencing through PCS-HG90 in turn will facilitate the telemedicine scenario in India in a big way. Videoconferencing will aid the specialists from other corners of the developed world to interact with referral clinics in remote underserved areas of developing and underdeveloped world.

AIIMS Extends Telemedicine Network to Africa

All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS) has established its telemedicine network not only within India, but is also extending it overseas. Soon AIIMS will be extending its consultancy services to patients in Africa. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will be installing telemedicine equipment at  AIIMS, which will enable the institute to connect with various hospitals in the African continent. The MEA will soon provide a comprehensive network through satellite and fibre-optics and wireless links at AIIMS. The infrastructure is expected to be in place within two to three months.

The project endeavours to connect all 53 nations of Africa Union through a satellite and fibre-optic network.  The network will connect five universities, 53 learning centres, 10 super-specialty hospitals and 53 remote hospitals in Africa.

The African network, which will cover  its 53 countries, will  be VSAT-based star network and connect with India through under-sea cables. The network will provide tele-education and telemedicine, through tele-conferencing services. A data centre to manage and maintain records, storage and back-up facility and retrieval mechanism for the medical facilities will be provided in the hospitals.

AIIMS will be connecting to its trauma centre, cancer hospital, cardio-neuro centre and few other important areas of medicine, which will give the doctors the freedom to give consultation without specially coming into the telemedicine room. However, this teleconsultation facility will not entail emergency cases at the beginning.  The consultation for emergency cases  may be extended
gradually.

Telemedicine to Get Academic Recognition

Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University will soon have the distinction to conduct the first formal telemedicine technology course for the doctors in Asia. The course will be launched at Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR University, in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals. However, the introduction of this course will follow the establishment of a department of telemedicine in the said university.

Initially the telemedicine technology course would be in the form of a part-time certificate programme for doctors affiliated to Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR University, but later, according to the Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR University, Dr. Meer Mustafa Hussain, there are chances of extending the course to a full two-year term.

The course is to be co-ordinated by Dr. K.Ganapathy, who heads the Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation and the faculty will comprise of technologists and engineers. The classes would include field experience.

Maharashtra Takes the Tele  Route to Healthcare

A year ago the Maharashtra state government and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has entered upon an agreement to develop a telemedicine project, and by now impressive spade work has been done regarding this. The necessary equipments have been set up, and trials are being conducted, and now the project is expected to take off by June. The project entails establishing ICT network between King Edward Memorial Hospital in Parel, Mumbai, which is  a tertiary care super-speciality hospital, with hospitals in Latur, Sindhudurg and Nandurbar, and the VN Desai Hospital in suburban Mumbai. The latter are patient nodes. This telemedicine link will enable specalists at King Edward Memorial Hospital to provide medical consultations to patients living in rural Maharashtra. Once this telemedicine system comes into place, the patients at these above-mentioned hospitals would not have to come all the way to Mumbai for some specialized treatment, surgery or consultation.

ISRO is providing the bandwidth and telemedicine equipments, which include dish antenna, server, computers,  digital ECR,TV with video camera, and X-ray scanner, while the rest of the infrastructural support are being provided by the Maharashtra government. According to S. Krishnamurthy, Director (Publications and Public Relations), ISRO, both INSAT and EDUSAT will be available for the project. However, initially, the compatibility, connectivity and effectiveness of telemedicine will be tested through a two-year pilot project. Based on the project results, the telemedicine network will then be extended across the state. Presently KEM officials are undergoing training to get acquainted with telemedicine machinery, so that they get familiarised  with sending and recording information digitally.

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