Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The patients, suffering from chronic diseases and requiring experts’ guidance, are deprived of telemedicine facility. The state government launched the system to help the patients, living in remote areas, to get experts’ help through video conferencing. According to the system, a doctor is supposed to sit at a primary health centre (PHC) and help a patient get in touch with specialists, sitting in big cities.
The specialist, on hearing the problems of a patient, prescribes medicines to the doctor concerned who, in turn, prescribes it to the patient. As the system has been outsourced, a computer operator, handling the telemedicine system from a cyber café gets Rs 210 from government. His duty is to connect the patient with a specialist on the recommendations of the doctor sitting at the primary health centre. There are two ways to operate the telemedicine system. First, the cyber cafes in remote areas contact the doctors. But, instead of sitting at the PHC, they remain at their residences or at some other places.
Therefore, there happens to be no direct contact between the patient, the local doctor and the expert. There is another way to operate it. The computer operators, sitting at the Health and Wellness Centre at the district hospitals, directly contact the specialists for consultation. An incident, in which a computer operator contacted a doctor at home, came to light at a PHC in Charwaha village, Jabalpur. There are many cases, in which the operators themselves prescribed medicines to the patients down with chronic diseases. When Dean of Gandhi Medical College (GMC), Dr Arvind Rai, was contacted for his comments on the issue, he said, “We are the facilitators.
GMC is a major centre of telemedicine. We run the machinery of telemedicine, but the health department is using it.” Deputy director of health, Dr Pramod Pathak, said, “The National Health Mission (NHM) is looking after the telemedicine system in the state. It is also part of the Health department. We do not look after it. It is the NHM which is accountable for it.” Deputy director of NHM, Dr Manish Singh, said, “The telemedicine system is operated in two ways. First, it is operated at the health and wellness centres. Second, it is operated at PHCs.
Officials at the State Health and Wellness Centre call the district hospitals for consultation with doctors. At the PHCs, the system has been outsourced and the operators are paid.”