April 2017

Karnataka transforming healthcare landscape for the masses

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With a clear objective of taking quality healthcare to the doorsteps of the citizens, Karnataka is transforming its healthcare infrastructure using technology as a potent tool to provide fillip to the sector, making it more connected, inclusive and result-oriented. Having introduced a number of CSR initiatives, PPP models, telemedicine system in PHCs, teleradiology, e-Hospital, e-Arogya, PHC MIS projects, virtual clinics, Mobile Medical Units, among others, the government is providing a new direction to the sector that relies on the bottom up approach to improve health indicators of the state, writes Elets News Network (ENN).

Karnataka is among the few states where the government is following a proactive approach to deliver quality healthcare services using technological innovations to improve health indicators across the state, bridging the wide gaps in service delivery by taking on board all the stakeholders responsible for improving efficiency across the sector.

“Upgrading health-related infrastructure and human resources in public health facilities in Karnataka to implement universal health care successfully are our top priorities,” says Dr Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka.

The Government of Karnataka, under the leadership of Minister for Health and Family Welfare KR Ramesh Kumar, has recently come out with suggestions for a policy framework to provide quality healthcare across the state. It includes provision for providing free diagnostics, medicines and other necessary tests to take care of rising costs of health services.

The Government of Karnataka has implemented several new programmes and strengthened the existing ongoing programmes in order to improve the health care infrastructure in the state at the community level.

To achieve its target of making healthcare more inclusive and cost-effective, the government is committed to use information technology effectively. “We have undertaken several IT projects within the department. The e-Hospital project (linking patients with health facilities, registration, diagnostics, treatment and big data analysis) makes government hospitals more efficient. Telemedicine and tele-radiology helps in overcoming HR (specialists) shortages. Our IT projects in Karnataka include e-Hospital, tele-medicine, tele-counselling and treatment of psychiatric cases (NIMHANS Model), Janarogya, etc,” says Dr Rajneesh.

Recently, Samsung Research and Development Institute, Bengaluru (SRI-B) recently handed over 1,000 Tab IRIS to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka. Samsung Tab IRIS, the first commercial tablet to be approved by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for Aadhaar verification, is set to provide advanced technological support to efficiently manage medical subsidies and operations at public health centres across the state.

Taking medicare to people living in rural areas has always been a challenge. For decades, the biggest question has been how to provide medicare to those feeling left out even in availing basic medical help.

Karnataka’s Department of Health and Family Welfare has come up with an idea to provide healthcare services to the needy with Mobile Medical Units (MMUs).

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah flagged off 78 MMUs that will provide healthcare services to people living in hilly remote areas, in locations which are far off from health centres, areas with poor transport connectivity, and in vicinities which are mostly inhabited by the poor especially SCs, STs, other economic backward classes.

“The primary objective of the MMUs is to provide healthcare services to the needy in remote areas of Karnataka,” said Minister for Health and Family Welfare while launching the initiative along with the chief minister.

According to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, each mobile unit has been equipped with medical device, drugs and consumables as per the National Mobile Medical Unit Service guidelines. Each unit is equipped with an MBBS doctor, a staff nurse, a pharmacist, a laboratory technician, an ANM, and a driver. For each unit, in a taluk, 13 to 15 eligible villages have been identified for service.

This year, the Government of Karnataka allocated Rs 5,118 crore for the Department of Health and Family Welfare, which was more than the previous budget allocation. The budget has provided a major push to both AYUSH Department and public health centres (PHCs).

With the government focussing on tackling the increasing incidence of lifestyle and non-communicable diseases, five super specialty hospitals have been proposed in Vijayapura, Davanagere, Tumakuru, Ramanagara and Kolar towns for the treatment of cancer and heart diseases.

The Budget also aims to promote traditional systems of medicine in the state. To achieve this goal, integrated Ayush hospitals with 50 beds capacity will be set up in Chitradurga and Chickamagaluru district hospitals at a total cost of Rs 6 crore. The government will also establish an Ayush drugs manufacturing centre in the premises of Belagavi City Immunisation Centre at a cost of Rs 5 crore.

The Budget also proposes to integrate 1,538 ambulances under two different departments to make available at least one ambulance for every 10 to 15 km or 35,000 population.

Karnataka is also adopting the CSR model to deliver quality healthcare to the millions of its citizens both in rural and urban areas of the state.

“Our vision is to ensure access and availability of quality health care for all. Our mission is to provide comprehensive and quality health care services to ensure equitable access, redress regional imbalances. Stabilise population and make AYUSH systems Integral part of health care. Involve community participation in all the activities for better acceptance,” says Dr Rajneesh.

The Government of Karnataka has implemented several new programmes and strengthened the existing ongoing programmes in order to improve the health care infrastructure in the state at the community level. Araike Yojane, which aims to provide pure drinking water, toilet, bathroom facility and rooms to stay for the patient’s attendants, is one such programme.

Mobile health clinics aim to take quality healthcare delivery to the door steps of the vulnerable sections of the population in remote, unreached and poorly accessible under-served areas of Karnataka (rural, hilly, tribal and forest with poor communication facilities).

The government also plans to strengthen dialysis units by identifying the non-functioning units and make them functional by inviting PPP partners (human resource support viz. specialists and technicians).

Mobile health clinics aim to take quality healthcare delivery to the door steps of the vulnerable sections of the population in remote, unreached and poorly accessible under- served areas of Karnataka (rural, hilly, tribal and forest with poor communication facilities). The government is proposing to deploying 1,000 ambulances for this purpose.

Despite good infrastructure, public health facilities in urban and semi-urban areas lack quality and reliability. The main reasons are urban poor lack of awareness about available services, poor grievance redressal system and lack of information on patient rights, privileges and responsibilities. Hence, Citizen Help Desks (CHDs) have been planned to cater to the patient’s need

Karnataka is experiencing shortage of doctors and specialists of all categories in public hospitals at district, taluka and community health centre levels. To overcome the acute shortage of medical personnel, under the Department of Health and Family Welfare and NHM, the services of the doctors and specialists are hired on contract basis. It is proposed to approach private hospitals or practitioners to come forward and spare a day or two per week for catering to the needs of poor patients.

“For Government of India, the key priorities under NHM (National Health Mission) for 2017 include availability of free drugs, diagnostics, dialysis units; focus on NCDs; operationalising the FRUs; strengthening of district hospitals; quality care and kayakalp; patient centric health care and toll free helplines; elimination of malaria by 2027 and filariasis by 2020 and address human resource gaps,” says Dr Rathan Kelkar, Mission Director, National Health Mission, Government of Karnataka.

According to him, Karnataka has additionally fine-tuned these priorities based on state’s needs, and the focus extends to delivering services like dialysis, ICU units, and repositioning ambulances every 15-20 km till district and taluka level. “Other priorities include reduction of health inequality amongst people, strengthening infrastructure and referral system from PHC up-till multi-speciality level and focus on universal health coverage (UHC) through participation of private sector utilising tools such as telemedicine and e-hospital management,” he adds.

The state, under NHM, has embraced Information Technology on par with the private sector. “We already have a number of software (38) pertaining to various programmes. For example, the mother and child tracking system, Health Management Information System (HMIS), Asha software, integrated disease surveillance system software, etc. There are ongoing efforts in integrating them on common parameters to support better access, data mining and creation of dashboard, indicators. e-Hospital software (containing 4 modules- OP, IP, Lab as well as billing modules) has been rolled out and piloted in about 7 hospitals. The same would now be extended to 47 institutions including district, taluk hospitals and CHCs. In the next one year, we are looking at implementing e-Hospital right down to the PHC level,” says Kelkar.

The concept of digital healthcare is expanding fast in Karnataka. Under a new initiative titled “Primary Health Centre Management Information System” the state government has selected 1,000 PHCs to make available real- time information, such as patient treatment, diagnosis, deliveries handled and drug availability that would be centrally consolidated.

With determination in mind to provide worldclass healthcare infrastructure in the state, the Karnataka government is making all the right moves to make quality healthcare available to the citizens by leveraging technological innovations. With success of these interventions set to change the course of healthcare sector in the state, it’s is widely hoped that the state will emerge as a role model to follow by other states in India, helping the country realise its true potential.

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