The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doc on call, long distance
- Darjeeling nursing home sets up telemedicine centre

Darjeeling, Sept. 27: Patients here can now consult doctors stationed at Bangalore, or even Colombo, without stepping out of the town.

Specialised health services will finally be available to people in the hills with Darjeeling and Dooars Medical Association — popularly known as the Planter’s Nursing Home — setting up a telemedicine centre on its premises.

Telemedicine is a term used for the process where medical services are provided long distance with the patient and the doctor located far apart. The Apollo Gleneagles Hospital’s Telemedicine Centre housed in the planter’s nursing home will help patients consult with specialists posted in Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Calcutta and Ahmedabad.

“The Apollo Gleneagles network is also connected to overseas centres in Colombo, Dhaka, Lahore, Sudan, Yemen and Kazahkstan and people can consult doctors there sitting right here in Darjeeling”, said Dr P.D. Bhutia of the association.

The required infrastructure has been put in place and two persons have already signed up for the service after the Pujas, Bhutia said. “(Once the system is up and running) we will arrange appointment with the doctor concerned within 12 hours,” he added. “And the patient can go in for a follow up with the same doctor again and again.”

A doctor will accompany the patient to the telemedicine centre for a live conference with the specialist through ISDN lines. With the help of polycam, the doctors can also take a look at the patients if required. The doctor here will supply additional information like blood pressure count or pulse rate, added Bhutia.

The centre will also send complaints and history of the patients, including test reports of X-Ray, ECG, CT Scan, angiogram, etc. electronically on specially-designed case sheet.

The facility will save patients from a lot of hassles, said Bhutia. “We have found that a number of people have to repeatedly go to distant places like Bangalore and Calcutta for follow ups. Apart from the financial burden, the patients also have to arrange for leave and travel over long distances. This facility comes at a very low price: a sitting should not cost more than Rs 1,500,” he added.

Even doctors here can seek advice from specialists through this centre.

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