Telemedicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will go international next month when doctors sitting in Delhi will diagnose and treat patients in 54 countries across Africa.
The project is the brainchild of former President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, who on a visit to the continent in 2005 had promised medical assistance to African nations.
AIIMS signed a memorandum of understanding with Telecommunication Consultants of India (TCI) Ltd eight months ago to provide all necessary technical assistance for the project. While AIIMS will provide the medical expertise, TCI will contribute the hardware and the satellite link.
“The project was in the pipeline for sometime, but finally it has come through,” said Dr YK Gupta, AIIMS spokesperson.
Thus AIIMS specialists will examine patients, diagnose their problems and direct their treatment — all of it online. Thanks to advanced digital technology, the health status of patients can easily be communicated online.
“If a doctor in an African country examines a patient with a stethoscope, our specialists sitting in Delhi can see the result on their monitors here and will act accordingly,” said Dr Gupta.
Anticipating patient overload, AIIMS plans to divide the project into two parts — online and offline analysis. In the first, patient-doctor interaction will take place on the spot, while in the latter, specialists at AIIMS will be sent detailed medical histories of patients in batches through e-mail which they can study at their own convenience.
To make up for the time difference, doctors will interact with patients in Africa early in the morning or late in the evening.