Railways to expand telemedicine network

Railways to expand telemedicine network

New Delhi: Taking medical facilities to far-flung areas, the Indian Railways are planning to expand their telemedicine network to 23 more places across the country.

“Currently, telemedicine facilities are available in nine places including Ratnagarir, Reasi, Valsad. The facility is going to be soon available in 23 more places in Maharashtra, Goa, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Jammu and Kashmir," said a senior railway official.

Telemedicine is the use of electronic communication and information technologies to provide health care when distance separates medical specialists from the patient. It also includes educational use of these technologies such as distance learning of health subjects.

Though rail connectivity has been established in far-flung and remote areas, proper medical facilities have not reached these areas yet. “We are trying to establish telemedicine facilities where medical facilities are not upto the optimal level. There are no equitable health care services with availability, accessibility, affordability posing major concerns," said the official.

Recently Konkan Railway established a telemedicine centre at Reasi in Jammu and Kashmir and as per the plan more such centres would come up in the state keeping the ongoing Kashmir rail link project in mind.

“One can examine, diagnose, seek specialist opinion, treat and cure the patient effectively through telemedicine system," V.R. Vastal, Chief Medical Officer, Konkan Railway said.

“There is an overwhelming response at our Reasi centre in Jammu and we are commissioning a pilot project in Madgaon soon."

With the rapid growth of Internet, transmission of all types of health data, including web transfer of text and audio-video images through dedicated optic fibre cable has improved accessibility to specialists opinion from remote places.

Talking about the importance of telemedicine, Vatsal said, “Specialist health facilities are concentrated in urban areas but one can reach out to remotest areas through telemedicine by using electronic communication and Information Technology".

“Efficiency of operations is pure and simple. For uncomplicated checks of patients who are doing well, travel is a complete waste of time and money. For complicated cases, one will need to travel but telemedicine technologies can reduce the number of trips," said Vatsal.

Sonpur, Hajipur and Dhanapur in East Central Railway have already established telemedicine facilities.