‘Develop tele-health to improve service in rural areas’

T. E. Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on December 21, 2011

The Government should pro-actively take technology to the rural areas for the provision of better healthcare and tele-health is a good tool for this, according to Dr Sumanth Raman, Head of Healthcare Innovation at Tata Consultancy Services.

“The combination of healthcare and technology is a great way to improve rural healthcare. It only requires the right mindset, he said at Connect 2011, this year's information, communication and technology event in the State.

Tele-health and tele-medicine can provide the rural population access to specialists located in remote locations. Unfortunately, however, the concept has not picked up in the country. There are around 280 tele-medicine centres in the country, most of which have been set up by the Government. A significant number of the centres are non-functional or unutilised, said Dr Raman, who is also co-chairman, Task Force of Healthcare of CII Tamil Nadu.

“We can improve rural healthcare only if tele-health is brought into the mainstream. There should be dedicated staff for this,” he said.

Tamil Nadu has tele-medicine hubs in Walajabad and Royapettah Hospital in the city. However, their potential is not fully utilised, he said. “We need a separate department of tele-medicine,” he added.

On how tele-medicine can help in providing better healthcare services in the rural areas, Dr Raman gave the example of tele-radiology. “Government hospitals located outside the cities do not have adequate numbers of radiologists after 2 pm. If a patient in a rural area comes in with a head injury after 2 pm, he would not have access to the radiologist. However, if the hospital offered tele-medicine services, a scan of his injury could be accessed by a specialist living in a remote area and a further course of action suggested. This could be done in a matter of 15 minutes, and could save the patient's life, he said.

“We are three to five years away from fully adopting technology in rural healthcare. Today, a number of pilot projects are being conducted across the country,” he said.


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Published on December 21, 2011
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