Doc’s prescription for tele-medicine

Shashwat Chaturvedi, Cybertimes NewsDaily

It was an amazing promise made quite a few years back: a promise of a healthy life to the teeming millions residing in the innumerable villages dotting the Indian landscape.

Tele-medicine promised to change the way healthcare was to be delivered to the common man, be it Jhumritaliya in Jharkhand or Ganganagar in Rajasthan. No more, would the rural junta have to travel to nearby metros or state capitals to avail of specialty treatment as most of the healthcare facilities would be available at the public health centers (PHC) connected to the main hospital via dedicated communication channels — be it ISDN line or even a VSAT.

Scores of pilot projects were launched and everyone waited with bated breath. Yet the promised remained unfulfilled. Progress has been excruciatingly slow for a variety of reasons, be it paucity of capital or infrastructure issues.

But now, Telemedicine has got a new lease of life, thanks to the spread of the Internet. With the number of Internet users growing by leaps and bounds (numbering over 50 million as of December 2005, according to Internetworldstats.com) and broadband set to explode into Indian homes, the World Wide Web might just be the medicine that the doctor had prescribed for an ailing tele-medicine.