Take heart, healthcare now at your doorstep

Sanjeeb Kumar Mohanty (51) felt the sky crashing down recently when he was told by specialists of a reputed private hospital here that he had only 15 days to live if he chose against cardiac surgery.

He had been experiencing chest pain and visited the specialist, who after tests, informed him that two valves in his heart were damaged and needed surgical replacement. Worried, he approached the Orissa Trust of Technical Education and Training (OTTET)-run telemedicine centre for a second expert opinion.

A connection with the Narayana Hrudyalaya was established immediately and his test reports instantly examined by the expert cardiologists there. To his utter surprise and happiness, the experts ruled that there was no need for surgery and the one valve that was affected could be treated by medicine. Thus, saving Mohanty the travel and the expenses in having to visit the hospital.

Cases like this abound as the unique Telemedicine network project, initiated by OTTET, is beginning to make its presence felt in rural and inaccessible pockets providing healthcare services at the people’s doorsteps.

Launched in 2009 with opening of the first telemedicine centre at Rairakhol in Sambalpur district, the project, executed in association with the State Government, the National Resource Centre for Telemedicine under Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry and IT Ministry, has increased to 60 centres in the State.

All the 51,000 villages in the State are targeted to be covered under the network within 2015.? The focus is on the areas in the most backward and rural pockets where healthcare services are not available. The centres, while providing primary consultation with general physicians to the people in times of illness through virtual OPDs, also act as vehicle for bridging the gap between general physician, specialists and super speciality experts.

Anyone visiting the centre cannot only be examined by a doctor for illness though the virtual platform, but also gain speciality opinion or have consultations with top super specialists in the country. Each centre has equipment for measuring temperature, weight, heart rate, BP and breath rate. They also conduct on the spot tests for ECG, spriometer, skin and dental, diabetes, urine and the whole range of ophthalmologic examinations. Patients are sent to the doctors and specialists instantly for diagnosis and advice.

“The patients or people are availing the services at their doorsteps at vastly lower costs than those prevailing in the market. The major benefit for them is that a person in a village does not require to move to the towns or city to seek advice from specialists”, the brain behind the initiative, Managing Trustee K N Bhagat, says.

Besides, OTTET has opened a new avenue for employment of educated youth. “We are seeking to create rural entrepreneurs among youth, who are being trained as accredited telemedicine technicians and certified by SGPGIMS, Lucknow. They will run the centres at the district, block, panchayat and village level.”

“Already, 168 budding entrepreneurs have been registered with the DICs and we are aspiring to create over 1.5 lakh such entrepreneurs within the next three years”, Bhagat said.

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