January 2012

Building Trust in Telemedicine

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Dr Jawahar Shah throws light on the work that Mind Technologies, a company that he founded, has done for connecting rural and urban specialty centres through telemedicine, and by offering quality preventive and curative services in Homoeopathy

www.mindtechlive.com

Rural India desperately needs Telemedicine. Poor Indian villagers are often forced to spend comparatively large sums of money on travel to the cities for treatment in speciality hospitals. According to a study done by the Indian Institute of Public Opinion, 89 percent of rural Indians are forced to travel more than 8 kms to receive basic medical treatment.

AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) was undertaken by the National Institute of Homeopathy in Kolkata in partnership with a private firm, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL&FS), both of which were working under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. The team at Mind Technologies sought to harness this power of remote communication and combine it with homeopathic treatment, which is cost effective, has no side effects, and shows tremendous ability in combating a wide array of diseases.

The project was implemented at 11 centres in Tripura. A patient living in remote area of Tripura can approach any one of these centres and consult a doctor sitting in a nearby dispensary. If a doctor is not available in the dispensary, a link will be established with the NSS hospital in Tripura or with the National Institute of Homoeopathy, Kolkata, or to the expert consultation end at Mind Technologies, Mumbai. Upon making a prescription, a trained attendant in the centre dispenses the medicine to the patient.

The project is a massive success. More than 14,000 patients have been treated since the project began; more than 60 percent of the patients are women.

In future, the team also sought to reduce isolation of rural medical practitioners by upgrading their knowledge through tele-education and tele-CME (Continuous Medical Education), and facilitating full access to medical information through remote technology. This has enabled emergency and critical care situations to be managed in the rural areas itself.

The project will overcome all geographic, economical and social barriers faced by the rural citizens and help them in obtaining quality preventive and curative services through homoeopathy. Embarking on a first of its kind telemedicine venture, Mind Technologies has meaningfully touched the lives of more than 14,300 people in rural Tripura. Not only has this initiative provided healthcare to the poor and needy, it has also opened new avenues in the health industry, the government authorities, and the masses. It has already started the process of acceptance of homeopathy.

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