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Maharashtra: Telemedicine Facilitating Better Patient Care in Rural Areas

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Telemedicine is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where medical information is transferred via telephone, the internet or other networks for the purpose of consulting, and sometimes remote medical procedures or examinations.

Objectives of this programme include providing expert consultation to patients in remote areas, video conferencing facility for online consultation, and to facilitate medical education facilities for Medical and Para Medical staff.

There are a total of 62 patient nodes in Maharashtra, which are providing telemedicine facilities. Out of these 62, 23 nodes are in district hospitals while 39 are in sub -district/rural hospitals. A total of six speciality nodes are situated in medical colleges where a team of experts provide opinion pertaining to treatment. Telemedicine control node is also available at Sir J.J. Hospital, Mumbai.

In 2014-15, telemedicine facility extended to 5 high focus/tribal districts in rural hospitals including sub-district hospital, Manchar (District –Pune), rural hospital, Chikaldhara (district – Amravati), rural hospital, Sangamnar (District – Ahmednagar), sub-district hospital, Gokhunda (district – Nanded), and district hospital, Nanded (district – Nanded).

Speciality nodes situated at medical colleges provide treatment opinion to the patients who are referred from patients nodes situated at district and sub district hospitals.

These speciality nodes are K.E.M. Hospital Mumbai; Sir J.J. Hospital Mumbai, Government Medical College Nagpur, B.J. Medical College, Pune, Government Medical College, Aurangabad, Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Paediatric Centre of Excellence (PCoE), and Sion Hospital Mumbai (Funded by UNICEF & MSACS).

The telemedicine has facilitated online consultation through video conferencing. A total of 2, 12, 207 referred patient are being provided experts’ opinions at district / sub district / rural hospital through telemedicine centre. Multi-CME conducted till date (on 697 topics) for doctors & para- medical staff at district / sub district/rural hospitals through telemedicine centre.

How telemedicine projects took roots across Maharashtra- A timeline

• 7 Sept. 2006 – Pilot Project in collaboration with ISRO started in Maharashtra, Specialist Center KEM Hospital, Mumbai with five remote centers (District Hospital Latur, Beed, Nandurbar, Sindhudurg and sub district hospital Karad)

• 2007-2008 – Telemedicine expanded to additional, 20 districts, 2 sub-districts and 4 medical colleges

• Feb. 2011- Telemedicine network shifted from ISRO bandwidth to BSNL/MTNL broadband

• 2011-2012- Telemedicine network expanded to 30 sub-district/ rural hospitals

• 2014-2015 – Telemedicine facility extended to 5 high focus/tribal districts in SDH/Rural Hospitals – Manchar (Pune), Sangamner (A’Nagar), Chikhaldara (Amravati) , Gokunda (Nanded), DH Nanded.

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