Tech leaps link rural populace with doctors

CISCO's care-at-a -distance healthcare solutions enable access to specialist medical care for the rural masses


Deevakar Anand | March 8, 2011

The neglect of rural health care and concerns of paltry budgetary allocation on the sector might see some fresh light, thanks to technology enabled innovations in connected health in India.

Internet protocol-based networking solutions provider CISCO has come a substantial way with its care-at-a-distance solutions which enables remote examination, consultation, better patient education, wellness management, post- discharge follow up and doctor-to specialist collaboration. Simply put, through technology, specialists sitting in metros will be able to diagnose, prescribe and even help operate a patient in remote area with the assistance of a para medic or a doctor physically accompanying the patient.

At a media interaction in New Delhi to promote its Care-at-a-Distance solutions, Cisco’s internet business solutions group managing director, Susheela Venkatraman said, “Visits to the doctor will no longer be limited to physical face-to-face meetings – clinical services will be available 24x7, virtually from anywhere.”  Vishal Gupta, company’s vice president and general manager for services and healthcare business unit echoed her. “Access to affordable and high quality healthcare can be implemented for both rural and urban population using innovative solutions that leverage network as the platform”, he said. He however noted that for such a solution to bear the fruits, technological innovation and extensive collaboration among various private and public stake holders is required.

Cisco last year entered into an alliance with Apollo hospitals and also signed an MoU with the central government to provide health care and promote social inclusion through the government’s Common Service Centres (CSCs) across the country. The CSC scheme is considered the strategic corner stone of the national e-governance plan approved in 2006 to offer web-enabled e-governance services in rural areas.
Presently, Cisco has been providing remote healthcare services through its HealthPresence technology solutions in various flood affected areas of Raichur district in Karnataka, informed Gupta.

On apprehensions on affordability , Gupta told Governance Now that the cost involved would be well within the affordability of people in rural India as compared to what they end up shelling out by visiting the specialists in cities which involve costs in terms of travel, accommodation etc.



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