The Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, a not-for-profit organization offerinLg telemedicine services enabling continuous access to the most sophisticated healthcare support systems, celebrated its 15th anniversary today.
Established in 1999, with a mission to provide medical services even in remote areas, the telemedicine unit at Apollo Hospitals has been creating a silent revolution in bridging the accessibility gap in healthcare sector. With 92,000 teleconsults in 25 specialities through 153 telemedicine centres, Apollo has now undertaken to provide telehealth to 10,000 functioning Common Service Centres under the Govt of India.
Speaking about innovation in technology and its eminent need in India’s healthcare sector, Ms Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited said, “The need of the hour right now is innovation that will break distance and infrastructure barriers and ensure seamless healthcare delivery across geographies. Successful amalgamation of medicine and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), I believe, has improved and will improve access to quality healthcare services even in remote locations. Facilities like “I SEE YOU” enable virtual visits to the ICU from anywhere in the world, bringing patients and doctors together, irrespective of location and time. Remote healthcare has transformed healthcare delivery in rural areas and will play a huge role in achieving universal healthcare. A proven catalyst, telemedicine might perhaps replace the need for physical consultations and regular follow-up.”
Prof. K. Ganapathy, Founder President ATNF, and Past President Neurological Society of India and Past President Telemedicine Society of India who has been campaigning to popularise telehealth in India carried out a detailed study to prove the urban rural health divide. A detailed analysis of 3666 members of the Neurological Society of India and the Indian Academy of Neurology has shown that not a single member lived in a geographical area covering 934.5 million people. 30.09% of India’s neurologists and neurosurgeons live in the four metros, 29.54% in the state capitals, 30.58% in Tier 2 cities, 7.12% in tier 3 cities and 2.67% in rural areas covering a population of only 84.59 million. This Uneven distribution of specialists is probably similar in other specialities and super specialities confirming that remote health care is the only solution for specialist care in suburban and rural India.
Acknowledging telehealth as the most promising solution to bridge the urban rural health divide, Indian Medical Association (IMA) is declaring March 24th as IMA National Telemedicine Day. IMA recognising telehealth is a major forward step for telehealth activists. With 225,000 members IMA can play a major role in ensuring that telehealth is indeed embraced by the medical community.
Mr. Vikram Thaploo, CEO Apollo Tele Health Services (ATHS) and HealthNet Global (HNG) believes that health care delivery is shifting from hospitals to patients in their households. “In a country like India where time is a rare luxury and health is a forgotten necessity we need quality healthcare expert 24 X 7 X 365. A holistic healthcare service provider who can monitor and manage health round the clock and is accessible at all times is the need of the hour. Apollo will soon be launching a comprehensive healthcare app which will enable the users to access all medical information and connect with doctors from Apollo hospitals just at the click of a button. This service will be delivered at cost round the clock. The app will empower the users to take control of their health by catering to all their health needs from anywhere, anytime. Consultation service will be delivered through video conferencing, phone calls and emails and the patients will even have the option to connect to a board of specialist doctors using the mobile app or the website.” We have also tied up with the real estate leaders like TATA housing and other senior living projects to provide Telemedicine centres in all the projects they undertake he said.
India’s healthcare problem, though unique and complex, offers remarkable opportunity for innovation. Urban-rural mismatch and inequity makes it difficult for traditional healthcare delivery models to fulfil its objective, calling out the need for innovative technologies that will help even remote areas with access to healthcare.