Telemedicine Society of India’s Haryana chapter inaugurated at Amrita Hospital, Faridabad

The chapter in Haryana is the first step towards making high-quality healthcare accessible to all our citizens

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Faridabad: The newly formed Haryana State Chapter— Telemedicine Society of India (TSI) was inaugurated at Amrita Hospital, Faridabad. Swami Nijamritananda Puri, Administrative Director, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, lighted the lamp and inaugurated the project.
Delivering the inaugural speech, he said, “Ours is a country where most people do not have access to proper medical care. Though there are several reasons, one of the main reasons is the geographical factor. Launching the Haryana Chapter will help transcend the obstacles and help people denied advanced medical assistance.”
Telemedicine facilitates communication between a doctor and a patient in a remote location with the support of the latest technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning support an accurate diagnosis. It includes phone calls, video chats, emails, text messages, and even drone delivery of medicines. Telemedicine is often called telehealth, digital medicine, e-health, or m-health (mobile health). The Haryana Chapter aims to connect patients who need medical help with in-house technical teams using telemedicine and clinics on wheel units.
Dr. Prem Nair, Group Medical Director, Amrita Hospitals & Vice-President National Telemedicine Society of India, said during disasters when all modes of communication are down, satellites establish connectivity with patients within the time described as the golden hour. When the tsunami struck, it was possible to provide healthcare to people in Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands through telemedicine. “This was one of the important milestones for us in telemedicine,” he said, adding, “We have also been successful in mobile telemedicine. We have been able to provide teleconsultation and teleeducation through mobile telemedicine units. We look forward to working with the Telemedicine Society of India and start connecting with local healthcare facilities to support some of the far-flung areas in Northern India substantially.”
Prof Meenu Singh, President of National Telemedicine Society & Director of AIIMS, Rishikesh said, “The government of Haryana started telemedicine Delhi-NCR and Chandigarh many years ago. It is 25 since telemedicine services began in Haryana when Prof. BD Gupta introduced it in 1997.  In 2005, the Prime Minister of India started telemedicine along with ISRO and the Department of Education and Technology. It is gratifying to see Amrita collaborating with ISRO and other agencies.”
Stressing the need to bridge the healthcare digital divide, Dr. Puneet Dhar, President, Haryana Telemedicine Chapter said, “About 1.3 billion people in the country fall in the spectrum of the healthcare digital divide. Healthcare infrastructure development is vital to the country’s development, and telemedicine can help. The increasing penetration of smartphones, mobile connectivity, and the internet makes it a game changer. Amrita has been a pioneer in exploring this. During natural disasters, our telemedicine van goes around providing treatment. It proved to be crucial when Covid-19 struck,” he said. He also pointed out the case of start-ups providing online consultation, remote patient monitoring systems, and online pharmacy services that use drones and assist in palliative care.
Unlike the developed world economies, healthcare infrastructure and distribution of the medical fraternity are not uniform in India. A robust, uniform referral system is lacking to directly refer sick patients suffering from specific diseases in remote areas, where tertiary/quaternary is missing.  The absence of hospitals/centers/institutes with state- of- art facilities for their treatment further jeopardizes the survival of these sick patients.
The chapter in Haryana is the first step towards making high-quality healthcare accessible to all our citizens. It will help ensure a future where healthcare is no longer a privilege but a fundamental right of every citizen of India. The Chapter is dedicated to hand-hold government/semi-government/private healthcare stakeholders to improve healthcare quality at all levels in Northern India and the rest of the country.
However, some challenges come in implementing telemedicine services in India. The lack of infrastructure, limited internet connectivity, and the shortage of healthcare professionals trained to use telemedicine technologies are some of the challenges that need to be addressed. Hospitals and other conventional healthcare institutions can be crucial in expanding telemedicine services in India. They can provide the necessary infrastructure and technical expertise needed to support telemedicine services. They can also provide the required training for healthcare professionals to use telemedicine technologies effectively.
The TSI’s Haryana Chapter will collaborate with all medical colleges/institutions to provide an in-training for future doctors. It is the 16th state chapter of TSI in India. They will also team up with various stakeholders for quality improvement in all aspects of healthcare- preventive, primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. It is of utmost importance for achieving Millennium Development Goals.
Dr. Kamal Bijlani, Director of E-Learning Research Labs (AERL), is the secretary, and Dr. Tarana Gupta is the treasurer of the Haryana Chapter. Currently, the Society has 45 members.
Dr. Murthy Remilla, Secretary, TSI spoke at the event. Dr. Arti Pawaria, Senior Consultant & Clinical Lead, Department of Paediatric Hepatology, Gastroenterology & Liver Transplantation, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad,  Dr. Ashutosh Sharma, Medical Superintendent, Amrita Hospital, and Dr. (Col) B.K. Mishra, Principal, Amrita School of Medicine, Faridabad, graced the occasion.