Just a Call Away
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03 April 2010
To make medical consultation and specialist opinion available for rural patients, the state government has set up 31 telemedicine centres under the National Rural Health Mission. While a center at Aundh district general hospital is functional ever since June, more awareness is required for a better response. The center at Sassoon is sanctioned but yet to start Do you ever feel that you need second or specialist medical opinion at the government hospital? Sometimes it happens that you don’t really need to go to the hospital. Some medicine that you can buy at nearby pharmacy or consulting could do. In such a situation, medical help is just a call away.
To make medical consultation and specialist opinion available for rural patients, the state government has set up 31 telemedicine centres across the state under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Now patients don’t need come all the way to cities or stand in a long queue at government hospitals, says M Manekar, telemedicine programme officer, NRHM. “We have 31 well–equipped telemedicine centres in all districts. In Mumbai, it’s working wonders, Doctors can reach out to the patients in rural Maharashtra. In Thane and Mumbai, more than 500 patients have benefitted, thanks to telemedicine system,” he says.
The facility was started in Pune at Aundh General Hospital in June, says Dr Mahendra Nagare, civil surgeon. “We have a good response but it could be better. All that is needed is good publicity,” he adds.
Similar centres – at Sassoon General Hospital and at Baramati – are in the pipeline, he says. “They have been sanctioned. I wonder why they have not stared functioning. Hope they start working at the earliest possible. Bedsides making the treatment available on call for rural patients, more and more will get the specialist opinion. Hence the diagnosis would be even easier,” Nagare says. Pune telemedicine centre has over 60 successful cases since June, says Dr Tara Rahore, telemedicine project manager. “We solve almost 15 to 20 case a month. When a patient feels he needs a specialty opinion, we consult a specialist. It is up to doctors to decide. According to the second opinion, we decide or change the course of the treatment. It also helps for a better diagnosis and faster cure. Besides, patients also call us up for consultation,” she informs.
Telemedicine also needs an organized administration, Rathode says. “As consultation is done on phone, records have to be maintained. I have kept a file of every patient about history, bills, medical reports, second opinion of doctors and so on. We cannot afford to misplace any file,” she avers.
More publicity can earn it a good response, Rathore feels. “When doctors find it difficult to consult patients, or feel that a case should be referred to a specialist, they can avail the facility. Even for rural patients, it’s a call away. But they don’t know about it. More publicity can yield better results,” she concludes.