Telemedicine refers to the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients utilizing telecommunication technologies, thereby providing substantial healthcare facilities to larger demography. This has proved to be a boon for the remote rural areas of India.
A major role in the direction of Telehealth in India was played by collaborative efforts of NASA and ISRO, and the setting up of the National Telemedicine Taskforce by the Health Ministry of India, in 2005, paved the way for the success of various projects like ICMR-AROGYASREE, NeHA, and VRCs.
Here, an important thing to note is that the two terms, ‘Telemedicine’ and ‘Telehealth’ are often interchangeably used but have a subtle difference in the areas of application. Telehealth refers to the broad range of technologies and services to improve the healthcare delivery system as a whole and it can also include non-clinical services like training, administrative meetings related to the sector, and continuing medical education. In contrast, Telemedicine involves electronic communication with special software and applications for clinical services without an in-person visit.
Modern-day telemedicine uses electronic devices like smartphones, laptops, cameras, wearable bio-sensors, etc., for gathering clinical data. Along with the ease to the patients, telemedicine reduces the chance of missed appointments & cancellations and enhances the revenue while managing the crowd at the clinic.
Telehealth in India
The modest beginning of Telehealth development in India is attributed to the efforts of ISRO, linking Chennai's Apollo Hospital with the Apollo Rural Hospital at Aragonda village in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. A few noteworthy examples of the successfully established telemedicine services in India include mammography services at Sri Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi; oncology at Regional cancer center, Trivandrum; surgical services at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, School of Telemedicine and Biomedical Informatics.
Some of the current leading Indian private sector names in telemedicine include Narayana Hridayalaya, Apollo Telemedicine Enterprises, Asia Heart Foundation, Escorts Heart Institute, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, and Aravind Eye Care.
In the last few years, ISRO's telemedicine network has considerably been developed. It has stretched to link 15 super specialty hospitals and 45 remote and rural hospitals. The remote nodes include the islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep, the hilly regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Medical College hospitals in Orissa, and some of the rural/district hospitals in other states. In the past few years, ISRO's telemedicine network has come a long way. It has expanded to connect 45 remote and rural hospitals and 15 super-specialty hospitals. The remote nodes include the islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep, the hilly regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Medical College hospitals in Orissa, and some of the rural/district hospitals in other states.
WHO recommends a doctor-population ratio of 1:1000 that is only 0.62:1000 in India. Training of new doctors is expensive and time-consuming so such efforts in the Telehealth sector are going to be very beneficial in India.
Different types of telemedicine services like store and forward, real-time and remote, or self-monitoring provide various educational, healthcare delivery and management, disease screening, and disaster management services all over the globe. Even though telemedicine cannot be a solution to all the problems, it can surely help decrease the burden of the healthcare system to a large extent.
Medibrandox is the leading healthcare digital marketing agency helping to develop telehealth applications to connect healthcare professionals and patients.