Information and Communication Technology in Health Care
The country already has the advantage of a strong IT fibre backbone and indigenous satellite communication technology with trained human resources. With enhanced efforts, telemedicine could help bring specialized healthcare to the remotest corners of the country. Telemedicine is likely to provide the advantages of tele-diagnosis, especially in the areas of cardiology, pathology, dermatology, and radiology besides effectively operationalizing Continuing Medical Education (CME) programmes.
Telemedicine: Telemedicine can be defined as the use of electronic communication technology to exchange patient information and provision of health care services at remote locations. Global Telemedicine has gone far beyond providing health care services alone. It is now being extensively used also for education, research and management of data. It is, however, paradoxical that despite India’s strength in information technology, the use of telemedicine is still at a fairly nascent stage especially in the public health sector.
Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in health can be broadly in four areas viz. Education, Research, Referral, and Management of Data.
- Health and Education : When ICT is applied to medical education, it is possible to make high quality education available pan India seamlessly.
- Hospital Management System : It is common experience that work places in the health systems are not adequately governed especially in remote areas. The management of medical colleges and district hospitals can be strengthened significantly with the application of Hospital Management System.
- Health Research : ICT can potentially transform the medical scene in India, by bringing about a sea-change in medical research. From traditional clinical research to the modern synthetic biology-based research, the opportunity is immense. Work on problems such as Cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, and therapy can benefit from inter disciplinary cooperation. Medical fraternity has availed such benefits when MRI and Nuclear Imaging was integrated into medicine a few decades ago.
- Health and Management of Data : Electronic Medical Records (EMR), is a fundamental pre-requisite in using ICT seamlessly in healthcare. While EMR is available in several forms, size, shape, and format, Indian medical community with a specific mandate should standardize EMR, create and establish ICT platforms for using EMR based systems, for universal benefits.