MUMBAI: Maharashtra will shortly become the first state in the country to launch telemedicine facility for the patients in remote areas, where medical facilities have been a distant dream since decades. Health Minister Deepak Sawant on Monday told Express that the facility, which will become functional on January 16 or 17, will have so state-of-the-art techniques which, “the specialist doctors sitting in Mumbai would be able to hear heartbeats of a patient admitted at Melghat, around 800 km”.
Sawant, who is a surgeon by training, said Maharashtra, will be the first state to launch the facility . “It will not work as a treatment through video conferencing where doctors can only advice their counterparts at the other end on a patient’s treatment. In telemedicine, the doctors would treat a patient with the help of an attendant. The patients will also be able to speak to the doctor and explain his/her problems,” he said.
Connectivity was the major hurdle in implementing the telemedicine project. Melghat, the state’s most backward tribal area, does not have connectivity towers required for operating a cellular phone. One cannot operate a cellular phone in Melghat and 27 villages around it due to the lack of basic infrastructure. The area does not even have proper roads.
“We are going to use VSAT facility to connect with the area. It will be a temporary arrangement till the remote areas get cellular and Internet connectivity,” Sawant said. “We have also taken precautions so that Naxalites in that area don’t take advantage,” he added. A patient’s medical history will be stored on cloud computing so that a doctor could easily get it at any time.