CUTTACK: Even as Odisha is acknowledged to have pioneered telemedicine in the country, it is now poised to spearhead application of mobile e-health (mHealth) technologies to widen healthcare accessibility in rural areas.
The Telemedicine Society of India (TSI) is set to launch an ambitious programme to drive mobile phone-based services for bridging the gap between healthcare availability in the urban areas and interior remote areas of the State.
The Society will conduct awareness and training programmes for doctors across urban and rural areas to make use of mHealth technologies to not only make themselves available for needy patients but also reach out to pockets that are stilled deprived of basic healthcare services.
“Simple applications like WhatsApp can work wonders in the field of extending healthcare services to the needy anytime, anywhere. Test reports, diagnosis data, X-rays, CT scans, ECGs and EEGs can all be transmitted instantly to experts from anywhere and they can advise or give their opinion immediately,” the newly elected President of TSI Prof BN Mohanty said.
Prof Mohanty, head of Experimental Surgery at SCB Medical College and Hospital, took over as the president of TSI during its annual conference at Kolkata on Sunday.
Under the aegis of TSI, workshops will be held in different parts of the State from next year to motivate and educate doctors from not only Government and peripheral institutions but also private sector for more proactive use of mHealth applications in their day-to-day healthcare. The movement will not be confined to allopathic practitioners only and will include AYUSH doctors and other key medical workers like nurses and pharmacists.
With more mobile phones than toilets or drinking water taps in the State, the potential for delivering health services to people irrespective of distance or geographical considerations is boundless. As per latest TRAI data, there are nearly three crore mobile phone subscribers in Odisha accounting for more than 75 per cent of the total population of the State.
“We have to unlock the potential and harness the power of mobile phone. While simple instant messaging applications like WhatsApp can make the beginning, several mHealth technologies like measuring blood pressure, blood sugar, oxygen and other instant diagnostics through smartphones are on the anvil. Some mobile medical tech may be released within this year too,” Prof Mohanty said.
The advantage of mHealth is that it can be used from anywhere and anytime. The doctors or patients would not require to go to telemedicine centres for consultation or uploading their data for examination by experts at the other end. The mobile technology mHealth will not only transform caregiving but also prove a vital instrument in real-time monitoring of patients, collection of health data and research.