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The Kerala Tele-Health and Medical Education Project: experiences from a tele-specialist centre

Date: Poster sessions
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Mangadan Konath Nabeel, Coordinator, Centre for Tele-Health and Medical Informatics, Academy of Medical Sciences, India
with Hariharan S


The Academy of Medical Sciences in Pariyaram is one of the new generation of medical colleges in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It has been chosen as one of the specialist nodal centres under the Kerala government's tele-medicine project connecting various medical colleges in the state with district headquarters in the first phase and later to be extended to the primary health centres.

The project is partly funded by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was christened the `Kerala Tele-Health and Medical Education Project'. It is an internet provider-based system, which works using satellite technology.

This paper discusses the issues faced in implementing the project state-wide. Currently the project is getting consultations from district hospitals and at times from other specialist centres as well. Similarly, the project can seek expert opinion from other specialist centres. Customised software helps in transmitting electronic medical records and imaging data from a tele-nodal centre to a tele-specialist centre (store and forward method). Based on the patient record, an appointment is fixed for videoconferencing between the consultant at the specialist centre and the treating doctor at the nodal centre (real-time method). But this software does not support consultations between the tele-specialist centres ­ this is a major drawback to be worked upon ­ for which video-conferencing alone has to be used.

The connectivity is extended from the main tele-medicine room to the operating theatre complex, one lecture theatre and a small seminar hall. The connectivity for the operating theatre is being used both for seeking expert advice and to conduct tele-education programmes on surgical techniques. The connectivity with the lecture theatre and seminar hall again is intended to support scaling-up of continuing medical education activities.

In the next phase of the project, apart from extending the connectivity to more centres in rural areas, plans have been put forward for using the connectivity for sharing electronic resources and also to use it for enhancing surveillance and epidemiological research.

A detailed account of the project from its planning stage to the implementation stage has to be narrated in order to derive lessons and best practice guidelines, which shall be dealt with in the full paper. Finally, the paper will compare other institutions within our community and from outside, and shall highlight best practices.