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News - 2005

Vijay Times 7 Feb 2005

ISRO leads healthcare revolution in the country.
International conference on telemedicine to begin on Mar 17


Bangalore: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which has successfully taken specialised medical healthcare to remote corners of the country through satellite, plans to give a major boost to telemedicine by organising a 3-day international conference in Bangalore from March 17.

Telemedicine, the buzz word today, consists of customised medical software integrated with computer hardware and medical diagnostic instruments. It helps patients in remote rural areas to avail timely consultations from specialists without the ordeal of traveling.

Speaking to Vijay Times executive director, Space Industry Development M N Sathyanarayan who is the organising secretary of the conference said, "ISRO is concerned with the common man. Hence it provides free of cost treatment and quality healthcare to the poor by giving free satellite time."

He said that when one talks of speciality health care, it is available only in metropolitan cities. But 80 percent of the country's population is in the rural areas where 80 percent of the doctors are in cities. To bridge this gap, telemedicine which is a meaningful and economical integration of the communication technology, information technology and the medical technology, can instantaneously bring to one's doorstep the speciality care, no matter where one is.

According to another organising secretary L S Sathyamurthy, director, Business Development, Antrix Corporation Ltd, the pilot project on telemedicine in Karnataka initiated by ISRO was established in April 2002 connecting the super speciality hospital Narayana Hrudayalaya with the district hospital at Chamarajanagar and Vivekananda Memorial Hospital at Sargoor, HD Kote taluk. So far nearly 25,000 patients have obtained consultation services.

He said that there was a 80 percent cost saving for a person treated through telemedicine and pointed out that "the cost of airlifting a person during the recent tsunami disaster from the Islands of Andaman and Nicobar, would have been Rs.5 lakhs per person and from Lakshadweep it would have been Rs.2 lakhs. But the network provided by ISRO was pressed into service instantaneously and few communication systems which were affected during the disaster in some of the islands were restored in a short time and used extensively for providing medical consultations as well as relief works."

Even the army is using the telemedicine facility extensively. The super speciality RR Army Hospital in New Delhi has performed very complicated operations in Parthapur through teleconsultation.

Sathyamurthy said that Televital was providing state-of-the-art software which enabled a doctor practicing in a remote area could access a specialist through browser based system without implementing the software and help in bringing down the cost.

ISRO publications and public relations director S Krishnamurthy said that ISRO had already installed a demo model in Vishweshwariah Museum, providing free satellite bandwidth, where children could interact with specialist doctors every Wednesday and Friday.

The conference, organised by Astronautical Society of India for the first time in the country, hopes to attract hospital and health care service providers, medical practitioners (even from rural areas in large numbers), software and hardware industries, engineering institutions, NGOs, trusts and medical and health insurance providers.