Patients in remote villages of Jharkhand will soon have access to specialists without having to travel long distances for an examination. Faced with huge challenge of providing healthcare facilities to its people in remote areas, the state government of Jharkhand has mooted an ambitious telemedicine project to connect patient with physician. The latest initiative envisages connecting health centres at district and block headquarters with some of the best hospitals in the country through satellite to facilitate experts’ advice. If all goes well with the plan, the facility of telemedicine could be accessed by the people across the state in the next couple of years. The Department of Information Technology (DIT) and the Department of Health jointly mooted the project keeping in mind the dilapidated healthcare infrastructure and acute shortage of doctors. The Jharkhand unit of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) is expected to provide technical support to the project. “Under the telemedicine system, villagers will get the advice of doctors at reputed hospitals across the state,” Jharkhand IT Secretary RS Sharma said. He further said that the proposed plan has been forwarded to the Health Department to work out modalities for its ution. About operational nitty-gritty of the system, Sharma said that the DoIT had a dedicated 2MBPS leased line at the block levels. The link could be utilised for the patients’ direct interface with experts sitting in renowned hospitals. Initially, all the hospitals will be linked with the telemedicine division of the state’s premier hospital, Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) that would be extended to other hospitals like AIIMS, Sharma added. The state Health Department’s inefficiency to extend even the basic medicare was exposed recently when over 600 doctors appointed on contract resorted to indefinite strike demanding regularising their services. The situation compelled the government to take help of doctors from Army and other public sector undertakings to restore normalcy at least in important hospitals in the State capital. The state with a population of nearly three crore, of which more than half live below poverty line (BPL), has around 1,100 government doctors to cater to its medical needs. “Even as we have planned recruiting over 1500 additional doctors very shortly, it would be difficult for us to streamline health services in rural areas. Hence the State needs adopting telemedicine facility at the earliest,” state Health Secretary SP Sinha said. The project has been designed to be implented in three phases. In the first phase, seven district hospitals, one mobile van and two medical college hospitals would be connected through e-health of the IT department. Officials said that Chatra and Daltonganj might be among the first two districts to have this facility.