December 2011

ICT for Affordable Healthcare

Using technology as a tool, Dr MM Prabhakar, Medical Superintendent, Ahmadabad Civil Hospital, realises the potential of Information Technology and shares his views on how to improve medical facilities

Dr MM Prabhakar

Medical Superintendent, Ahmedabad Civil Hospital

Ahmedabad Civil Hospital is Indias largest hospital which promises to deliver tertiary care service to the patient. It has the largest medical college- BJ Medical College where students are given medical education to become the future doctors and serve the nation. Our hospital provides all sorts of facilities including free service to the patients from accommodation to food and medicine to the patient. The Civil Hospital actively took part in implementing HMIS project in pilot phase and was later made part of the administration with the success of the project. ICT has changed treatment methods with the advent of telemedicine. Its use has helped people in remote areas or areas without adequate medical facilities to access quality healthcare. Doctors are very approachable with the technological advancements.

ICT Initiatives

The much applauded eMamta programme is a good example to speak about the successful IT implementation initiatives. Also, use of technology helps in better diagnosis and treatment. While it may raise the costs in private sector, in government hospitals, the focus is always on providing affordable healthcare. We had started a project to get the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital accredited by the NABH. However, at present due to cost constraints this has been put on hold. This will be reconsidered and if possible, we will go for accreditation at a later time. We have all sorts of labs which are communicated with the system and at one point pathology, microbiology labs, administration, patient records all are connected by the same network to be accessed by the logged in users. We have an ideal blood bank in the industry which is one of the topmost blood banks in India. Most of the blood banks are inter-connected through a network of computers and with special software to optimise the availability of blood, especially, of rare groups.

Presently, we have 108 service, but that is for providing basic emergency healthcare in the golden hour only. 108 services are not equipped to provide intensive care. In order to meet this need, the government has launched 26 new state-of-the-art ambulances – ICU on Wheels – to government hospitals. These ICUs on Wheels will provide Critical Care to those in need, while they are being taken to hospital. The vehicles have transport ventilator, a sophisticated multi-parameter monitor and defibrillator-cum-pacemaker. There is also adequate back-up supply of oxygen and power, which is important for safe transport of patients.

Infrastructure Development

IT will further enhance the quality and responsiveness of healthcare in the state. We need to improve our healthcare infrastructure and bridge the gap in meeting our requirements and availability of doctors. In Gujarat, we hope that in five years there will be no shortage of doctors. Even in Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, we are undertaking an expansion in capacity so that we can train more doctors. Similar initiatives are being replicated across the state by using technology in effective ways to augment the existing infrastructure. The overall impact has been very beneficial to healthcare sector. In Gujarat, our aim is to make affordable and quality healthcare available to all citizens. For this, government is using technology as a partner..

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