JULY 2010: Farveen lives in a remote area of Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district. When a scorpion bit her friend last year, she was clueless about the first aid required. She immediately called 104 Advice helpline of the Health Management Research Institute (HMRI). The practitioners SMSed her the prescription, along with first aid instructions. Thanks to telemedicine, Farveen was able to save her friend.
Had the situation required detailed diagnosis, the ‘Doc-in-the-Box’ would have come to Farveen’s aid. HMRI’s telemedicine solution looks like a pizza delivery bike, but is a virtual hospital! It uses a combination of medical equipment, communication technologies and software to provide rural patients with access to low-cost yet world-class medical diagnosis and treatment. They do this using virtual physical examination and consultation modules such as tele-ENT, tele dermatology, tele-medical and surgical consultation, tele-cardiology and tele-ophthalmology.
Piloted in Andhra Pradesh, HMRI has deployed its telemedicine technology to provide a primary healthcare physician’s treatment at several old-age homes, as well as specialised cardiology consultation at district hospitals. In a little over a year, it has provided tele-consultation to over 15,000 patients. No wonder, HMRI has been chosen as a ‘social innovator’ by NASSCOM.
More success stories
A few years ago, when Sameer Sawarkar and Rajeev Kumar realised that 80 per cent of India’s healthcare professionals are in urban areas while 70 per cent of the population resides in the rural segment, they decided to bridge this cleft using technology. After all, not every villager can afford to travel to the nearest township to consult a general physician, let alone a specialist. So they decided to take the water to the horse rather than dragging the horse to the pond, and started Neurosynaptic Communications, in close association with IIT-Madras’ TeNeT Group.