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Kashmir hospital to launch telemedicine

02 April 2009

Shabir Dar

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Aiming to bring quality health care to remote areas, a hospital in Kashmir has become the nodal agency for telemedicine in north India. The state-of-the art facility will provide emergency consultation, OPD services and online programmes for doctors serving in distant locations.

Srinagar, Kashmir: With Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) being designated as a nodal agency for telemedicine for north India, five districts hospitals of the state would be connected with the institute for upgraded telemedicine-based consultation services by first week of May.

This telemedicine node will be part of the larger telemedicine initiatives at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) run by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) aimed at offering consultation to around 100 networked hospitals and medical institutions all over India.

The facility will provide emergency on call consultation for the networked institutions, regular scheduled telemedicine consultation besides tele-education and continuing medical education lectures, teaching and training programmes.

“In our state we have already connected 12 centers and are upgrading five districts hospitals at Poonch, Kathua, Kupwara, Leh, Kargil and Doda with this system. These will start functioning from first week of May,” revealed Director SKIMS, Dr Hamid Zargar.

He said SKIMS has already been connected to Dr B R Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital (IRCH) of AIIMS for telemedicine-based cancer consultation and follow-up programme.

“And now by being the nodal agency of telemedicine services for North India, our institute would be a hub of this facility. This will benefit the doctors working in remote areas as they would be able to get help in diagnosis and treatment from experts,” he added.

Dr Zargar said the telemedicine facility at SKIMS will also help the institute to achieve a proper referral system and will help in curbing the huge rush of patients.

“With this technology we could be able to run many OPDs from here and can see patients of any remote area,” he said.

State nodal officer of telemedicine, Farooq Ahmad said the facility will run a telemedicine consultation clinic and develop a knowledge management system wherein all the relevant information consultation videos, archive of treatment information, images, multimedia information and database of patients will be stored, retrieved and disseminated.

He maintained that this facility will also develop an e-learning, online learning resource centre for Oncology, Radiotherapy and other specialty departments. Medical education programmes will be offered to the doctors of remote hospitals on this network.

Ahmad added that last year SKIMS was declared as second best telemedicine centre in India and was designated as hub-centre of telemedicine for north India.

“Very soon, we are going to connect all the district hospitals of the state with this facility and then it will be extended to all the sub-district hospitals,” he said. 

"Telemedicine will provide tele-consultations from senior consultants of the institute to any part of the state and doctors from remote areas will also get help in diagnosis and treatment,” State nodal officer said.

While listing the benefits of the programme, he said, “Unnecessary travel by the patients can be avoided, patients will incur fewer expenses, waiting time can be shortened, early detection and intervention will be possible. It will also ensure patient follow-up from remote places, medical education and training of health workers and doctors in remote areas," he said. 

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