Moving on from telemedicine to virtual OPD

By : |May 31, 2009 0

MUMBAI: It’s been over two decade, since the telemedicine concept hit India. This unique concept aims to provide healthcare and medical facilities to people living in rural areas and places using telecommunication technology.

However, technical limitations and infrastructural needs involving investments has prevented it from reaching the target group and help the rural folks reap the benefit of telemedicine.

According to Samir Syed, Avaya Global Connect’s director – Sales, lack of scalability, limited coverage and inability to share infrastructure across multiple locations are three key hurdles against telemedicine.

                                 

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“It’s not scalable as it offers one-to-one session, where at one end is the remote telemedicine center and other end is the centrally-located hospitals in cities from where the doctors examine the patients,” says Syed.

Further he explains that there’s limited coverage in terms of utilizing the pool of doctors or specialists and the infrastructure remains unshared to multiple locations because of centralized system.

It was after studying these challenges and brainstorming the ways to overcome this limitation that the concept of Virtual OPD’ (outdoor patient department), an innovative solution to provider healthcare facilities for people in remote locations, evolved, says Syed.

This solution virtually simulates the OPD of hospitals using the power of Internet, Unified Communications (UC) technology and Video contact centre application along with the telemedicine solution.

Virtual OPD is highly scalable with many-to-many sessions, which means many patients from different locations can simultaneously access doctors or specialists across locations.

A number of doctors and specialists can provide their services easily and have better reach to large number of patients as the infrastructure is non-centralized compared to telemedicine.

With virtual OPD, any patient from remote area can go to the health care center where he can request for a doctor related to his health problem. And this request is then visible on web application where the respective doctors can login the session using webcam and start examining the patient.

Since it integrates the telemedicine application, all the health records and patient’s history is available to doctors. Also, the doctors are not required to sit in the hospital or centralized location as done in telemedicine.

Medical professionals can have access to application and provide services sitting from their homes or private clinic using a broadband connection, laptop or computer attached with web cam, Syed explains.

Importantly, Syed says that since many doctors can get online during the sessions, if a patient takes more times with a doctor, then the second patient’s request which is in queue is routed to another doctor using the video contact center program. Hence the application tries to utilize the pool of available doctors and provide services to more patients.

According to Syed, the solution is modular and scalable and says that the company offers it at operational costs to hospitals and healthcare centers. “They are not required to make any upfront or capital investment for the virtual OPD solution, hence it can serve the masses with health care facilities,” he concludes.

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