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Tripura takes the ICT route to quality eyecare

09 June 2009

Rajesh Arora

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The Tripura Vision Centre project in northeast India is pushing information communication technology to its extreme to provide the best eye care facility to its citizens. Seeing its success, the government is planning to equip these centres with facilities to provide treatment for other diseases.

Agartala: The Tripura Vision Centre project has been instrumental in effectively utilising the benefits of information and communication technologies to reach rural masses.

The project aims at improving access to quality health care in rural areas of Tripura by adopting emerging developments in both ICT and medical technologies.

The Vision Centre project aims at providing quality eye care services to rural patients in districts of Tripura through tele-ophthalmology in an integrated manner whereby every case is accounted, classified and closed with a proper solution.

Besides, it is also expected to cater to a population of 3,432,000 spread across 40 blocks in four districts.

A total of 40 Vision Centres have been planned to be deployed in three phases to render tele-ophthalmology service across Tripura.

In Phase I, the first pilot Vision Centre was set up in Melaghar block in April 2007. The centre has screened more than 4,800 patients so far and has made significant impact on the local community.

Based on the progress made in Melaghar, the project was extended to 10 blocks in West Tripura district.

It also included setting up of an independent wireless network with bandwidth of 256 Kbps to be expanded up to 2Mbps. The 10 Vision Centres that were commissioned in August and September 2008 are presently screening over eight patients per day.

The technology

The connectivity network built for the Vision Centre includes a number of base stations that are installed on top of PoPs in every cluster covered by the network. The wireless network is deployed to operate with near Line of Sight (LoS) in most areas and non Line of Sight in some areas.

This enables to connect Vision Centres by mounting the customer premises equipment on a less than 30 meter tower at all locations have been erected to connect to the NOC and the data centre at IGM Agartala.

The MPLS VPN Network supports both Layer 3 and Layer 2 tunneling methods such as IPSec and MPLS for creation of VPNs. IPSec tunnels are CPE based. The tunnels originate at one customer site and terminate at the other end.

MPLS is a network based tunneling method that labels, categorises and monitors each packet as it traverses the network. Since MPLS is an overlay protocol it can operate on top of the IP protocol in the same network without interference.

When a customer packet comes to the edge router (Label Edge Router) on MPLS enabled network, the packet is encapsulated and tagged with a label (also called MPLS shim header, and is 32 bits long), which is removed only when the packet exits the network.

As the packet travels through network, the routers in the core (Label Switch Routers) switch, rather than route the packets, thereby greatly reducing latency in the network.

In order to facilitate seamless online consultation with patients from Vision Centres across 11 locations a real time consultation facility was established in the outpatient doctor consultation room at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital with required video conferencing software and access to VCMS module for doctor validation and sending the signed prescription online.

Apart from setting up Vision Centre infrastructure on the ground in 10 locations, the integrator also set up a core mini data centre for maintaining electronic medical records and connectivity network operations centre (NOC) at IGM with an ICT-enabled real time doctor consultation, facility at the Ophthalmology OPD counter at IGM.

The Vision Centre database server is located at the IGM Hospital in Agartala.

The patient case history can be seamlessly escalated between the secondary and tertiary care hospital as and when required.

Seeing the success of Vision Centres, the government is planning to equip the centres to provide treatment for other diseases.

The treatment for general medical issues will be provided through a telemedicine model where doctors will be connected through the same network.

The remedy diagnostic tool will be used to capture the following patient details at source – ECG, auscultation sounds (Stethoscope), temperature, heart rate and others.

The kit will be connected to the software that will capture the information digitally and flash the information at the doctors' system enabling them to diagnose and advise the patient.

All this will help in remote diagnosis of disease and also improve health condition of people staying in West Tripura.

Source : igovernment

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