A PROMISE OF HEALTHCARE FOR ALL THROUGH CSCs
Telemedicine makes it possible to connect health specialists from one end of the world, to patients in the remotest corners - anywhere and anytime. The Common Service Centres, or CSCs, are using telemedicine to provide expert health services to millions of Indians in the remotest parts of the country.
The diversity that makes India a beautiful country also makes it a very difficult one for providing public services to all its citizens. 3.2 million sq. kms spanning vast mountain regions, rolling green plains, huge deserts and difficult terrains like the North-eastern region and Jammu & Kashmir, and the far off islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep – makes it a nightmare to provide public services to India's primarily rural and geographically distributed population.
A vast country with a population of about 1.2 billion, 72% Indians lives in the rural areas. Here, typically, education levels are low, hence to make people aware of the technologies available today to help them and to get them to feel comfortable with concepts like telemedicine is difficult. Poverty rates are high, spending capacities low so one has to ensure that these services are made very affordable, or completely free of charge, if they are to really benefit the masses.
Healthcare is key to any country's basic public policy. And deployment in a big and complex country like India would mean keeping in mind the socio-economic disparities; problems with reach of healthcare services; quality and cost of care; and the bio-medical understanding of illnesses and their cure.
India is an ideal setting for telemedicine with 75% of the qualified medical professionals working in urban areas who have to be connected to the masses, and geography, time, and cost of travel and expenses around medical treatment making good medical care difficult to access. The basic objective behind telemedicine is to serve rural populations. Also, looking at the significant growth in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the recent years, with the internet completely changing the clinical care scenario, the potential for telemedicine is infinite. IT interventions and consultations are being introduced rapidly and on a large scale across healthcare.
WHAT IS TELEMEDICINE?
Telemedicine simply means the use of communications and information technology for the delivery of clinical care. It can be as simple as two healthcare experts discussing a patient over the phone or as complex as using satellite technology and facilities such as video conferencing for real-time consultation between a doctor and a patient sitting in a remote corner of the world. These telemedicine consultations can be divided into two categories: 'synchronous telemedicine' utilizes telecommunications for real time interactions between participants (e.g. video conferencing), and 'store-and forward' telemedicine which involves the capture of patient data for subsequent interpretation by a remote expert
BENEFITS OF TELEMEDICINE:
- Telemedicine is a great option for patients who find it difficult to travel to clinics or hospitals to consult with a doctor.
- The costs associated with physical visits to hospitals or doctor's offices can substantially reduce for both patient and doctor, by using telemedicine technologies like video conferencing.
- Telemedicine is also proving to be the ideal way to manage chronic conditions and administer preventive medicine.
- By facilitating communication between doctors and patients, telemedicine makes it easy to monitor discharged patients and track patient recovery
- Research shows that the use of telemedicine technologies results in fewer hospital re-admissions, more faithful following of prescribed courses of treatment, and faster recovery than that of patients not receiving remote treatment and consultation.
- With the help of telemedicine hospitals can create networks to help each other. They can share their expertise outside their own set-ups to advise their colleagues on the treatment of their patients.