Role for Skype Proposed in Telemedicine Push

Vidya Krishnan | | March 6, 2012

To improve healthcare services in the remote parts of the country, the Planning Commission has suggested adopting telemedicine by using software applications such as Skype in its report on health for the 12th Five-Year plan. Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. The 12th Plan starts on 1 April.

“Computer with Internet connectivity should be ensured in every primary health centre within this Plan period; sub-centres will have extended connectivity through cellphones, depending on their state of readiness and skill set of their functionaries,” the report said. “The availability of Skype and other similar applications for audio-visual interaction makes telemedicine a near-universal possibility and could be used to ameliorate the professional isolation of health personnel posted in remote and rural areas.”

Technology will play an important role in reducing the isolation of doctors working in remote parts of the country, according to the health ministry. “Health informatics is a priority area for the government, and within that, telemedicine is crucial in improving access to doctors,” said health secretary P.K. Pradhan. “With telemedicine, patients will not have to unnecessarily travel to reach tertiary or secondary care centres.”