Telemedicine: A backgrounder
- The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Telemedicine as- The delivery of healthcare services, where distance is a critical factor, by all healthcare professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation and for the continuing education of healthcare providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.
- The Telemedicine system consists of an interface between hardware, software and a communication channel.
- The hardware consists of a computer, printer, scanner, videoconferencing equipment etc.
- The software enables the acquisition of patient information (images, reports, films etc.).
- The communication channel enables the connectivity whereby two locations can connect to each other like satellite communication.
Advatages of telemedicine
- Easy access to remote areas
- Using telemedicine in peripheral health set-ups can significantly reduce the time and costs of patient transportation
- Monitoring home care and ambulatory monitoring
- Improves communications between health providers separated by distance
- Critical care monitoring where it is not possible to transfer the patient
- Continuing medical education and clinical research
- A tool for public awareness
- A tool for disaster management
- Second opinion and complex interpretations
- The greatest hope for use of telemedicine technology is that it can bring the expertise to medical practices once telecommunication has been established.
- Disease surveillance and program tracking
- It provides an opportunity for standardization and equity in provision of healthcare.
Telemedicine in India
- In India, telemedicine programs are actively supported by, Department of Information Technology (DIT), Indian Space Research Organization and other private organizations.
- The telemedicine software system has also been developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, C-DAC which supports Tele-Cardiology, Tele-Radiology and Tele-Pathology etc.
- It uses ISDN, VSAT, POTS and is used to connect the three premier Medical Institutes of the country (viz. All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), Lucknow and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh). In the past three years, ISRO’s telemedicine network has expanded to connect 45 remote and rural hospitals and 15 superspecialty hospitals.
- ‘HEALTHSAT,’ a dedicated communication satellite for healthcare in the country on the lines of ‘Edusat” has been envisaged for launch in the future.
Section : Science & Tech