BENGALURU: The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) has come out with the Karnataka Telemedicine and Mentoring (KTM) programme to teach 2,500 MBBS doctors from primary health centres across the state about psychiatric disorders, to help them deal with patients.
Unlike normal programmes, the KTM programme adopts the video call method, with five professors training doctors in rural and urban areas.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry Dr N Manjunatha said, “Many MBBS doctors who get patients with psychiatric disorders, are not able to give the right treatment, and patients keep returning to them with the same problem every few months. This programme will help them diagnose and treat the patients, who don’t have to come to NIMHANS for treatment. Training is given to doctors individually or in groups.”
Dr Manjunatha said that the programme is relevant to our country for two important reasons — psychiatry lessons in MBBS courses are inadequate, and about 50% of patients reaching primary healthcare centres have common psychiatric disorders that are not addressed.
The three-hour daily training programme on six psychiatric disorders is based on data of higher prevalence at primary care, such as depressive disorder, somatization disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, alcohol disorder, psychosis and tobacco addiction. The doctors train MBBS students on investigation guidelines, treatment guidelines and how counselling can help.
Apart from teaching doctors digitally, Dr Manjunatha is also carrying on consultation training where he is seated in NIMHANS and consults a patient with an MBBS doctor via video call in different parts of the state. “This ‘on-consultation’ training is the first in the world. This also helps the MBBS doctor understand what kind of questions are to be asked to such patients, and the treatment that has to be given. Due to its cost-effectiveness and other advantages, it was later called Tele-OCT,” added Dr Manjunatha.
The Karnataka government, under the National Health Mission (NHM), provided Rs 103 lakh for the project. So far, 520 doctors have been trained.