BHUBANESWAR: A recent study says an Odisha model of telemedicine project, which helps in extending affordable healthcare and alleviating poverty by stimulating micro-entrepreneurship, can create Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based sustainable development across the globe.
The study conducted by Prof Radha Kanta Mahapatra of University of Texas at Arlington and former Chief Secretary of Odisha Sahadeva Sahoo was presented at three-day Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) at Boston that ended on Saturday.
The researchers claimed that a unique telemedicine model developed by Orissa Trust of Technical Education and Training (OTTET) with State Government in PPP mode has been successful in providing and improving healthcare in rural areas by reducing both direct cost and out of pocket expenses.
Started in 2009, OTTET has set up 127 telemedicine centres and trained about 900 telemedicine technicians. Though it has collaboration agreements with several super-specialty hospitals in the country, nearly five lakh patients have been benefited so far in the State.
The telemedicine centres have been opened at the State-run Sub-centres and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) which are plagued by shortage of physicians, paramedical staff and diagnostic facilities. These centres get the patients tested and provide on the spot test reports besides consultation with specialist doctors through tele-conferencing. “Since most qualified healthcare professionals prefer to live in urban areas, receiving healthcare is a significant challenge for people living in rural areas. OTTET telemedicine showcases the benefits of the PPP model in implementing ICT-based sustainable development. Effective collaboration between the State Government and the organisation is the key to its success,” the study stated.
As per the model, the organisation recruits and trains unemployed youths and women to operate telemedicine centres and develops the network of providers who offer tele-consultation services. The State Government oversees the programme and facilitates the process by providing support as needed.
Managing trustee of OTTET Kedarnath Bhagat said the centres are functioning smoothly with technical support from the School of Telemedicine at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), a super-specialty teaching hospital in Lucknow.
“It is a successful model in its own way where the Government has to spend nothing. It only gives space in its hospitals where the telemedicine centres are run. We have instituted the legal framework that enables us to recruit and train technicians for operating the centres which include a patho lab. These technicians are recruited from among the unemployed youths from nearby villages and trained. They conduct tests at Government prescribed price and offer tele-consultation services,” Bhagat added.