Telemedicine Still Not Reaching Rural India
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Building brick-and-mortar hospitals to cater to a country that accounts for more than a sixth of the world’s population is a near impossibility. At present, 65 percent of India’s population lacks access to modern medicine. Less than 10 percent have access to a hospital, and only 13 percent have access to a primary care center. Add a poor doctor-to-patient ratio of 1:2000, and it becomes clear that telemedicine is the way to improve the country’s healthcare system.
According to a study by Technopak Advisors, the Indian telemedicine market is valued at $7.5 million and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20 percent over the next five years to around $18.7 million by 2017. Telemedicine — the use of technological aids like videoconferencing, mobile phones, and the Internet for consultations and monitoring patient data — has already started in India. Some of the initiatives include:
- Indian Space Research Organisation: ISRO’s telemedicine network has enabled 382 hospitals to practice telemedicine. Facilities are available across 306 remote, rural, and district hospitals and health centers. Sixteen mobile telemedicine units are connected to 60 super specialty hospitals located across major cities. Mobile vans are extensively used for tele-ophthalmology, diabetic screening, mammography, childcare, and community health. Services have been tailored to prevent outbreak of diseases during religious events like the Maha Kumbh Mela and natural disasters like the 2004 Tsunami.
- Health Care