Infrastructure, Not Technology Pose Problem to Telemedicine


Dr G N Saxena 
Dean, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College

Our main focus is to create telemedicine awareness in the rural and semi-urban population, says Dr G N Saxena, Dean, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College to Kartik Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN)

With the stabilisation of the technological backbone whereby almost all media of content – image, videos, sound and text – can be transmitted and acted upon in real time, telemedicine is emerging as the frontier for ensuring the inclusiveness of quality healthcare services to the entire population base.

Healthcare chains are increasing their services footprints by expanding their telemedicine base.

Whats your organisations take on the spread and expanse of telemedicine as an extension service to your brick & mortar establishment?

Mahatama Gandhi Hospital has set up a state-of-the-art telemedicine centre, with desktop connectivity to superspecialists, such as cardiologists, nephrologists, orthopaedic surgeons and casualty department. The casualty department is connected to provide 24×7 telemedicine services. The Mahatama Gandhi Hospital telemedicine centre also provides technology support to private medical hospitals and clinics. Mahatama Gandhi Hospital has been designated as the telemedicine hub for all government district hospitals by the government of Rajasthan.

Telemedicine should be an integral part of the national health mission

In what all ways have you juxtaposed the two set-ups? What percentage of your revenue targets are met through these expansion services?

The telemedicine centre is an integral part of Mahatama Gandhi Hospital. At present, all telemedicine consultations are free as a part of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The main focus of the hospital is to create telemedicine awareness in the rural/ semi-urban population, for which regular camps are held. Recently, a telemedicine awareness camp was held in Chaksu with the help of a non-government organisation (NGO). Similar telemedicine camps will be held to promote teledentistry, teledermatology, telepathology and teleophthalmology.

HospitalWhat policy hurdles do you find in furthering the telemedicine footprint of your healthcare brand? What support do you envisage from the Government to further the penetration of telemedicine services?

Telemedicine should be an integral part of the national health mission. The doctors and paramedics should be trained to understand the importance of this facility in providing expert medical care to the unreached. All NGOs in health sector should be made to provide telemedicine services to the dependent population.

In what all ways does technology pose a limitation to the healthcare consultations using telemedicine?

Technology does not in any manner pose limitations to telemedicine, rather it is the infrastructure that is posing limitations to telemedicine, as broadband connectivity is not available in the rural areas.

The doctors and paramedics should be trained to understand the importance of this facility in providing expert medical care to the unreached

Whats the general response and comfort of the patients when it comes to telemedicine solutions? How do you overcome the challenge of not presenting a conventional view of healthcare interaction?

Healthcare in India is very expensive, as a patient has to pay out of his/her pocket to get his/ her treatment done. Any form of financial relief is most welcome, this is the psychic of patients everywhere in India. Hence, once the technology is explained to the patient, it is well accepted. Our experience in telemedicine awareness camps has been good, as we have received a very positive response from the participating population. This form of healthcare will be accepted for the monitoring of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac diseases, etc.

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