To deal with different medical expertise challenges in rural and semi rural areas Cisco India believes technology is a vital tool. The company feels that technology is the right vehicle to virtually transfer the doctor to the rural areas. It recognises internet protocol as the most affordable, scalable and resilient technology that carry the doctor virtually.
“Indian healthcare sector would need to adopt measures to dramatically scale-up the availability of doctors in rural areas. Since majority of the people live in rural areas, we need the doctors to live there,”Aravind Sitaraman, president, Inclusive Growth, Cisco India said.
The United States has one doctor for 350 citizens. China has one doctor for 950 citizens. India has one doctor has 1750 citizens. If India aspires to become a super-power, it needs to triple the number of doctors in a short period of time. “Therefore, we see a large-scale global opportunity where governments would adopt our solution in a phased manner to deliver healthcare,” he added.
According to the draft of the Planning Commission’s report on healthcare, there is a 76 per cent shortfall in doctors which indicates a grim picture on access to medical expertise. The Rural Health statistics of 2011 of the 12th Plan draft reports the actual availability of doctors in the rural areas as 26,329 against an estimated requirement of 1, 09,484.
The country has made several experiments with telemedicine in India. There were 65 such solutions were launched but most of them have shut down due to incorrect technology-methodology to reach large populations. India was facing technology denial regime. Dependence on satellite-based delivery mechanisms had inherent issues like transmission latency resulting in flawed user experience, making it expensive in the long run. Even internet protocol too failed in terms of completeness of solutions and ability to scale-up, he said.
Cisco’s approach to solving the healthcare problem for countries like India is a radical departure from conventional solutions. Since it is virtually impossible to get a doctor to live in rural conditions there is need to incorporate technology to deliver virtual medical expertise. Added to these are poor infrastructure with no power and low internet connectivity also major challenges which Cisco sees as opportunities to maximize and create rural employment for such an ecosystem, said Sitaram.
Rural patients have a comfortable psychological dependency with a physical presence of the doctor is now a hurdle. It is also vital to incentivize the doctors engaged in providing rural healthcare services, he said.