Railways bring telemedicine to India

By : |December 19, 2005 0

Bhaskar Hazarika

NEW DELHI: Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has become the first railway zone of India railways by introducing Telemedicine in the Northeastern region.

General Manager NFR, A.K.Sanwalka inaugurated the telemedicine services project at Guwahati (Assam) with an objective to improve the health care facilities in the entire region.

The project has been divided in to two phases: Phase-I will provide connectivity to the Badarpur Area (Barak Valley) in South Assam and Rangapara (North Bank) while in Phase-II, connectivity will be established with the Southern Railway Central Hospital at Perambur in Chennai.

The railway hospital at Perambur is one of the leading medical centre for cardiology in the country.

The project would be confined to the northeast only as the initiative has been taken by the NF Railways. This project is specially meant for the railway staffs and dependents of the NF Railways.

NFR is the first railway zone among the 16 zones of the country to introduce telemedicine in the country.

Chief public relations officer, NFR, Trikalagya Rabha said that the prime objective of this project is to provide access to quality medical service to remote locations and to provide cost effective post treatment consultation without traveling long distances.

The work on phase-I has already completed connecting the other Divisional Hospitals and Sub-Divisional Railway hospitals of the remote areas of northeast remote locations of the region with the Maligaon Hospital. “The connectivity of the Phase-II, to connect the Southern Railway Central Hospital at Perambur with Maligaon Railway Hospital, Guwahati is in the process and is expected to be completed within few months time,” he said.

Rabha added that once the connectivity with the Perambur hospital is established, it would directly connect the other sub-divisional hospitals of the remote areas of the region. “As a number of people visit the hospitals in South India for treatment every year, by establishing the telemedicine project the people will be able to get the best health care facilities at the nearest railway hospitals located in remote areas,” Rabha said.

“Telemedicine is a very broad definition that encompasses many diverse applications such as teleconferencing, remote consultation, transfer of patient’s records and medical information, remote data collection and diagnosis, tele-education and much more. It may be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over a telephone or as sophisticated as using satellite technology to broadcast a consultation between providers at facilities in two different countries using video conferencing equipment,” Rabha said.

He added that the transfer of such medical data could be facilitated by the use of modern telecom technology including ordinary telephone network, Internet, intranet and satellite channels. Medical data can contain X-ray, MRI, CT-scan, ultra-sound images, blood slides, 12 lead ECG, light audio-video or clippings.

“This would also prove to be cost effective post treatment consultation and easy, quick and timely access to specialists,” he said.

“NFR is providing connectivity all by itself. There are no partners involved in this project,” Rabha added. Stating about the investment of the telemedicine project Rabha said that it would be known only after the completion of the entire project.

Telemedicine has the potential to revolutionize the entire health care sector by building bridges between clinics and patients to overcome the barriers of time and distance, developing virtual communities that interact and share knowledge and enhancing continuity of care.

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