Healthcare Now via Video

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Healthcare Now via Video

Naresh Wadhwa, President and Country Manager, Cisco India

Nearly 30,000 villagers in the Raichur district of Karnataka will soon be able to access doctors across several specializations from the comfort of their homes without having to travel long distances. This is because telemedicine is being offered to these villagers through a public-private partnership by the Government of Karnataka using a video based solution.
Remote examination and consultation is being facilitated using modern collaboration technology solutions via the internet. Supported by fast data, voice, video and real-time telepresence, these tools will help to seamlessly connect healthcare providers and their patients together in a cost-effective way, while also increasing the access to care, improving the quality of care and patient experience.
In another similar effort the Apollo Hospitals in Bangalore is working to employ ICT (video based technology) and make quality healthcare accessible to the masses for remote healthcare delivery remotely. In fact over the last few years, the government, NGOs and many private companies have employed technology to provide affordable, specialized healthcare.
Virtual healthcare is becoming a key area of focus for healthcare providers today because the modern world characterized by changing lifestyles, increasing incidence of chronic diseases and the rise of new diseases needs a specialized workforce to deliver healthcare services often across geographically dispersed areas.
There is a growing interest in care-at-a-distance solutions from both the government and private healthcare sector who want to provide accessible, affordable, and responsive healthcare solutions that meet specific, constantly changing medical and clinical needs of patients who demand a greater participation in the healthcare process.
World over, access to healthcare is denied to large groups of people due to several physical, financial and social constraints. Outdated and outmoded healthcare systems and the lack of collaboration among various healthcare stakeholders due to disparate healthcare information systems pose a severe challenge to effective healthcare delivery.
Since many of these systems use proprietary protocols and standards they impact clinical outcomes unfavorably, leading to serious patient safety issues. To cite an example patient data scattered across disparate systems in public and private entities makes it difficult and costly for healthcare professionals to share vital medical, clinical, and patient information with each other and their patients.
Better health outcomes call for addressing several related issues - water, sanitation, nutrition, pollution, awareness, education, occupation and economic well-being.  Healthcare providers seek technology solutions that improve patient care cost-effectively while reducing the complexity of managing healthcare infrastructure.
Several technology solutions are available today that can be used to deliver collaborative care, expand preventive healthcare initiatives, and boost the overall health of communities. Information and communications technology (ICT) provides an integrated network of systems and technology which allows citizens, governments, and healthcare providers to connect on a common platform and communicate with each other to make informed decisions regarding healthcare.
Web 2.0 technologies like social networking, video blogs and wikis facilitate seamless exchange of knowledge between members of the healthcare fraternity. ICT devices like laptops, PDAs, mobile phones help to disseminate information remotely and enable better decisions.
Integrating all solutions in a manner that is relevant to the specific situation and the issues to be addressed is critical for their successful adoption. Efforts like setting up of the 'National Health Grid' to connect medical institutions and practitioners are steps in the right direction which will help to support care and disease management initiatives leading to better healthcare outcomes. Public-private partnerships are the key to their success.

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