Soon, a specialist doctor will be able to treat a patient hundreds of kilometers away, while sitting in his office in Mumbai or Pune.
The state public health department, in a first of its kind venture in the country, will introduce a 24x7 health advice call centre by the end of this year.
Manned by experts in various fields of medical science, the call centre, to be based in Pune, will initially help junior government doctors and paramedics, who confront emergencies in the semi-urban and rural areas where modern diagnostics are not available.
The advice sought is expected to streamline the course of initial treatment and referral investigations thereof.
Public health minister Suresh Shetty told HT on Wednesday that the facility would be extended to the general public in years to come. Currently, medical help lines operate at the district level. Their job, however, is restricted to extending help such as ambulance transport and facilitating admission to government hospitals.
Shetty said the state level advice call centre would make a qualitative difference to health care. “A midwife or an anganwadi sevika (female health volunteer) can call experts when they face any difficulties during child birth. Likewise, our medical officers in primary health centres, rural hospitals and town hospitals can consult senior specialists.”
The minister promised to take the facility a step further by using 2G/3G mobile technology in which specialists can participate virtually in clinical procedures and investigations.
“When I visited Canada recently, I learned a lot about this. People can actually get their health reports on their mobile phones or get the specialist to treat them online,” said Vikas Kharage, family health welfare commissioner, who is in charge of the project.
“We have floated tenders. We will need at least four months to finalise things.” Kharage said the state call centre would come up in Pune’s Chest Hospital. “The call centre will have a software based on the standard operating protocol. Specialists will be roped in as and when required.”