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Gujarat government to revive telemedicine project

Gujarat Government is all set to revive its telemedicine project, which had failed to take off earlier due to technological hurdles, as a PPP model by roping in private hospitals and experts from Canada, according to PTI.

The project aims at providing qtelemedicineuality healthcare services to those living in rural and remote areas of the state.

Health Minister Nitin Patel said health experts from Ontario province in Canada have promised to provide the necessary technical support needed to implement the project.

“Indian-origin Minister of Ontario Dipika Damerla, who was here during Vibrant Summit, discussed this issue in detail with us. She told us that Ontario has successfully implemented this project in her province. Without taking any fees, they are now ready to help us in implementing the telemedicine project in Gujarat,” Patel told PTI.

Telemedicine is system where medical information of patients is transferred through interactive audio-visual media via internet.

Through the telemedicine network, city-based specialist doctors will be able to guide their juniors working in state-run health centres, located in remote areas, on the line of treatment for their patients, said Patel.

“We want to cover Primary Health Centres (PHCs) as well as Community Health Centres (CHCs), based in rural and remote areas, where specialist doctors are not available.

“Thus, we will set up our telemedicine infrastructure at these centres and connect them with nearby district hospitals for expert diagnosis,” the minister said.

He said local doctors can upload case details of patients through this service and seek guidelines from specialists for treatment.

“Using this service, a local doctor can upload case details and other reports of a patient on server and seek opinion of a specialist sitting in our district hospital through live video-conferencing. After examining the reports, that specialist can give direction to the doctor concerned using this network,” added Patel.

Health centres to be covered under the project will have a tele-consultation room, IT-compatible medical equipment and computers, besides a dedicated video conferencing facility connecting them to government hospitals that can respond in real-time with the opinion of expert doctors.

Patel said the government had tried to implement the project during 2010-11, but failed to get desired results due to several technological hurdles including poor Internet connectivity.

“We tried to start this project on a trial basis in some of the districts earlier. But, at that time technology was not much advanced. Moreover, Internet connectivity was also a big issue thus the project could not be replicated in entire state owing to such problems,” he said.

Explaining the rationale behind taking private hospitals, which specialises in providing telemedicine-related services, on board, Patel said their technological know-how and expertise would come handy for government for successful implementation of the project.

“There is no issue of Internet connectivity in Gujarat now. To overcome other issues and bringing in professional approach, we have also invited private hospitals to be a part of this project under PPP model. We will hold a meeting with them in coming days to finalise all the aspects of this state-wide project,” said Patel.


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