Blog written by Prof. Dr. Thais Russomano, InnovaSpace Co-Founder & CEO
Telemedicine is a rapidly emerging and growing area of health assistance, research, and education that uses information and communications technologies to provide remote assistance to communities that currently lack specialist healthcare, or access to any form of medical assistance. Imagine living hundreds of miles from specialist doctors, such as cardiologists, dermatologists, and radiologists, to name but a few. This very situation occurs in many thousands of places all over the world; it is a huge problem that can impact very negatively on people's lives. In such circumstances, telemedicine is a potentially powerful tool that can not only improve the quality of healthcare, but also help in reducing the costs of healthcare delivery. While travelling in India at the end of 2017 and visiting the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, I came across a classic example of a place where telemedicine fits in perfectly - an extremely remote area high in the Himalayas.
At an altitude of around 13,500 feet sits the world's highest altitude Telemedicine Centre, implemented by Apollo Telehealth Services. This outstanding telemedicine program was established by Apollo under the directorship of Dr. K Ganapathy (President, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation; Director of Apollo Telehealth Services; and InnovaSpace Advisory Board member), and aims to make quality healthcare accessible to the unreached populations of the towns of Keylong and Kaza, both in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, and with a total population of around seven thousand people.
The main health services provided are the delivery of medical assistance in emergencies, and primary and specialist tele-consultations. As of the 14th December 2017, a total of 9,389 consultations between the two remote towns and the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai had taken place (666 emergencies; 8723 outpatient consults). One such emergency involved local farmer Ram Singh who began to feel short of breath one day while out tending his cows. Fortunately for him he was able to attend the Apollo Telehealth service in Keylong and was treated remotely by a cardiac specialist in Chennai. Thankfully Mr Singh survived his heart attack and is able to tell his story in the above video, which makes him a classic example of how telemedicine can save lives!