BHUBANESWAR: In the face of increasing traffic density and demand for satellite-based connectivity, the need for a dedicated HealthSAT on the lines of EduSAT to spearhead telemedicine, tele-education and remote disaster management activities in the country is beginning to be deeply felt.
The telemedicine network in the country has got a major boost with the launch of the next generation communications satellite GSAT-12 by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) around middle of last year.
The geosynchronous satellite is equipped with 12 Extended C-band transponders of which two transponders have been offered to the Telemedicine activities. The two transponders have the capacity to absorb more than 500 telemedicine nodes. Currently ISRO has installed around 400 nodes enabling around 330 remote hospitals, 60 super speciality hospitals and 14 mobile units to render services as teleconsultation, tele-followup and tele-education.
The GSAT-12 communication satellite replaces the Edusat which went out of operation last year. It has resolved the problem of lack of extended C-band transponders, which support telemedicine. Telemedicine activities had been seriously affected last year following the disruption in connectivity linkages and had been down for several months.
“With its ground breaking technology, GSAT-12 can now provide seamless uninterrupted connectivity to the existing nodes as well as absorbing the new ones that are steadily streaming in,” Deputy Director, Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of ISRO, Dr Murthy Remilla told this paper here on Wednesday.
Remilla, who took part in the plenary session on “Healthcare without borders” of the 99th Indian Science Congress, said telemedicine is the way of the future and one of the most effective means of reaching superspeciality medical facilities to the doorsteps of the people at the most remote pockets so that they would have access to appropriate medical interventions at the PHC, CHC and DHH level without having to travel to the medical college and hospitals.
Telemedicine activities are witnessing a fast-paced growth in the country and acquiring new dimensions. From interlinking of hospitals to mobile telemedicine units, supporting continuing medical education and establishing disaster management support systems with village resource centres, there would be a tremendous rise in traffic and resultant demand for connectivity in the coming years.
The National Task Force on telemedicine set up by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recommended establishment of a National Telemedicine Grid to integrate all activities and bring them to the mainstream.
“As the spread induced traffic flow increases, there could be a need for a dedicated HealthSAT to aid medical services. ISRO will evaluate the situation and take suitable decisions,” Dr Remilla said.