December 2011

Next Gen Mobile Technology will Enhance Role of Telemedicine

Medtech Global is improving healthcare service delivery in India through the deployment of innovative and comprehensive technologies. Vino Ramayah, Chairman, Medtech Global, in an interaction with eHealth, shared his perspective on Medtechs journey and how the company is working to position itself as a preferred healthcare provider. 

Please give us a brief overview of Medtech Global.

Medtech Global is a leading healthcare technology products and services provider, with more than 27 years of experience in the sector. The company has been enhancing the quality of patient care through development of cutting edge technology products. Currently Medtech Globals products and services are being used in India, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, United States and South Africa. Medtech India was incorporated in 2009 and is a subsidiary of Medtech Global. We are the largest provider of technology solutions in New Zealand and the second largest in Australia.

What are your main product and service offerings?

Medtechs comprehensive suite of technology solutions consists of real-time end-to-end healthcare management systems. These systems improve practice management, and also enhance patient safety and healthcare delivery. They facilitate electronic health records management, reporting, and Telehealth and Telemedicine solutions.

Medtech currently provides solutions across for primary, secondary and personal healthcare. Some of these solutions are Practice Management Systems, Clinical Knowledge management, Electronic Medical Record Management, Digitisation, Telehealth/Telemedicine, Health Assessment Tools, Clinical Decision Support, Population Health Tools, Personal Health Portal, Hospital Information Systems etc.

Medtech has been active in digitisation and electronic medical records space. Tell us about the major clients you have been working with.

Medtech has mastered the ability to digitally convert traditional paper-based medical records and images to an electronic file for online and offline distribution. Medtech is currently working with several hospitals in India to digitally convert their traditional paper based medical records and images to an electronic file. Some of our reputed clients are Apollo Hospitals “ Chennai, JIPMER “ Pondicherry, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute “ Delhi etc.

In your view how will the field of telemedicine develop over the last few decades?

The idea of performing medical examinations and uations through the telecommunication network is not new. The earliest form of Telemedicine, developed in 1906 by Einthoven, envisaged ECG transmission over telephone lines. Since then, the field of Telemedicine has evolved from supporting the transfer of patients vitals data to live video conferencing via satellite feed. With the advent of 3G/4G services and other advances in wireless communication, Telemedicine has now taken off in a big way with the bandwidth supporting the transfer of audio, video and clinical data over the Internet.

There is a growing movement in India to establish a health grid that connects medical institutions and practitioners throughout the country. Telemedicine can help achieve this while also serving as a tool for educational institutions to provide practical training to young doctors.

Which areas of the healthcare industry do you think will benefit most through the development of telehealth technologies?

Telehealth has huge implications for rural primary healthcare delivery and can help bridge the gap between patients in remote areas and doctors who are mostly based out of the cities. Apart from this, there is a growing movement in India to establish a health grid that connects medical institutions and practitioners throughout the country. Telemedicine can help achieve this while also serving as a tool for educational institutions to provide practical training to young doctors.

What telemedicine products and services do you currently offer in India?

Medtech has its own state of the art telehealth solution called VitelMed, which provides direct access to emergency care for the recovery from serious illness or accident in remote locations or within an ambulance environment. VitelMed also finds application in providing quality remote care and connectivity between doctor, family and patients. Based on established technology used throughout the world, VitelMed combines audio and video, clinical data and work flow information with remote connectivity between doctor and patient to reduce the medical administration and care cycle and improve the effectiveness of emergency response care.

What benefits can Medtechs telehealth solution provide to Indias rural population?

Only 25 percent of Indias specialist physicians reside in semi-urban areas and a mere 3 percent live in rural areas. 66 percent of rural Indians do not have access to critical medicine. We believe that Medtechs telehealth solution VitelMed can bridge the gap between doctors and patients in rural areas through remote diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients via videoconferencing or internet. This is facilitated through the establishment of rural health centres, which can be manned by semi skilled people and these centres can be connected to some of the best doctors/hospitals in the cities.

Can you give us a brief outline of the telemedicine pilot project in which you are collaborating with National Agro Foundation?

Medtech under the aegis of the New Zealand Govt has signed a MoU with the National Agro Foundation (NAF), a public charitable trust, to run a pilot project in the remote village of Chunampet located close to Pondicherry in the state of Tamilnadu. NAF intends using the technology when it establishes a rural health care centre in the state of Tamil Nadu. This will be run as a pilot for 12 months, after which the scheme will be rolled out to rural areas.

What future innovations will you be bringing to the market?

With growing education levels, lifestyle related diseases on the rise; patients will seek out ways and means to keep track of their own health condition. In line with this, Medtech has developed a revolutionary personal health portal called ManageMyHealth. ManageMyHealth is a secure personal Internet health portal allowing healthcare providers to empower individuals to take a more active role in the management of their health and well-being. It enables individuals to access appropriate medical records and results uploaded by the doctor. It also allows patients to engage electronically with their healthcare providers to support positive lifestyle changes.

What changes and advancements do you foresee within the medical information technology space over the next 5-10 years in India?

The basic improvements of Electronic Medical Records from paper based records will be a key advancement for adoption of more sophisticated Information Technology such as decision support and disease management tools. The next 5-10 years is going to be very exciting for the medical technology space. We can expect applications that specialise in personalised healthcare, preventive healthcare, with a view of providing healthcare at the doorstep of the patient. The role of telemedicine will be further enhanced with introduction of next generation mobile technologies, as these can bring down the costs. Our response to the challenges of access in remote areas will improve. As handheld mobile smart phones become more popular, niche mobile applications will provide personalised health services and instant care. Better access to healthcare and greater awareness and higher expectations of patients will require new services and expertise from healthcare providers.

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