A health CSR project of THDCIL has brought healthcare facilities to 20 villages of Tehri district through the telemedicine scheme, a pioneering effort in Uttarakhand.
Teleconferencing mediated healthcare facilities were introduced in India by ISRO for the first time in 2001 under which remote hospitals, medical colleges and hospitals were provided facilities via the satellite GSAT-3 INSTA-3A. The project uses telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical health care from a distance. It has been used to overcome distance barriers and to improve access to medical services in distant rural communities. It is also used to save lives in critical care and emergency situations.
The first telemedicine centre in Uttarakhand was jointly established in Tehri with the efforts of SEWA-THDC, a sponsored NGO of THDC and the District Magistrate of Tehri. It was inaugurated by Chief Minister Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat on February 9, 2018.
Initially, a toll-free no. 555 was launched by the district administration with support of THDC to provide health care services to the public. Later, the district administration explored using the telemedicine option as a pilot project but it was difficult to implement due to high financial implications. THDCIL stepped in and provided all financial support to implement the project and also helping in its upgradation. So far SEWA-THDC has spent Rs. 61.74 lakhs on the project, including initial cost of training district health officials in 20 dispensaries.
Each telemedicine centre is connected to a video control room established in the Government Hospital, Tehri. All centres are equipped with a medical kit (briefcase) with Pulse Oxymeter, ECG Machine, Wifi ECG recorder, X-Ray view box, glucometer and other essential tools, a comprehensive pathological kit along with an android tablet with a list of essential medicines and portable hot spot to facilitate diagnosis, data transfer and communication with the district hospital. These centres are run by qualified pharmacists or nurses who act as an interface between the specialist doctor at the control room in Baurari District Hospital and the patient at the village health centre. For further expert opinion this scheme has been connected with AIIMS, Rishikesh also.
Together, these 20 Telemedicine centres are the lifeline of nearly 100 gram sabhas and impact nearly 56,900 people. Since, the inception of the Telemedicine scheme, a total of 12,121 OPDs has been registered up to January 2019.
Telemedicine scheme has enhanced the sense of proactiveness of the community toward the health need in terms of preventive health than curative approach and gained acceptance among various stakeholders. It has helped in increasing the overall quality of patient care and satisfaction in healthcare services including regular record of critical ailment, its trends & any new community health related problem. The benefits of telemedicine extend beyond cost and convenience.
In view of its sustained results & distt. demand to expand it, CMD, THDC Shri D.V. Singh reviewed all ongoing health projects under CSR domain and gave go ahead to additional 20 villages health care by way of doubling the telemedicine project as per CSR policy/company guidelines which may cost another Rs. 40 lakhs. Scheme has been very successful for rural people and well appreciated by state & centre authorities. Joint efforts of this noble health initiative have provided relief to many hundreds of sick people & by virtue of it. D.M., Tehri, Smt. Sonika & Dy.G.M. (CSR) Shri Amardeep Singh, Tehri have been considered for E-Governance award by GOI, New Delhi.
The connectivity of all the Telemedicine centres from Tehri control room is also being done with AIIMS, Rishikesh to extend expert advice of doctors, where this facility is not available at Distt. hospital.