Telemedicine is one of the unique applications of Space Technology for societal benefit. ISRO Telemedicine programme started in 2001 has been connecting remote/rural/medical college hospitals and Mobile Units through the Indian satellites to major specialty hospitals in cities and towns. ISRO Telemedicine network covers various states/regions including Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep Islands, North Eastern States and other mainland states. Many tribal districts of Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Rajasthan are covered under Telemedicine Programme.
Extension of healthcare through telemedicine mobile van during Koshi river floods in Bihar.
Presently, the Telemedicine network of ISRO covers about 384 hospitals with 60 specialty hospitals connected to 306 remote/rural/district/medical college hospitals and 18 Mobile Telemedicine units. The Mobile Telemedicine units cover diverse areas of Ophthalmology, Cardiology, Radiology, Diabetology, Mammography, General medicine, Women and Child healthcare.
While DOS/ISRO provides Telemedicine systems software, hardware and communication equipment as well as satellite bandwidth, state governments and the speciality hospitals have to allocate funds for their part of infrastructure, manpower and facility support. In this regard, technology development, standards and cost effective systems have been evolved in association with various state governments, NGOs, specialty hospitals and industry. DOS interacts with state governments and specialty hospitals for bringing an understanding between the parties through MOU.
The recent activities under Telemedicine Programme involved migration and operationalisation of the nodes which were affected due to non-availability of EDUSAT (GSAT-3). Most of 190 nodes operating on EDUSAT were migrated to operational GSAT-12 satellite. Around 139 nodes are now operational on INSAT-3A and the remaining nodes on INSAT-3C and INSAT-4A satellites. ISRO is in the process of bringing in annual maintenance support for the Telemedicine systems to ensure continuity of service.
A Telemedicine monitoring node is established in DECU, Ahmedabad which is used for testing and supporting users for minor troubleshooting, etc.
A Telemedicine Users’ Meet was held at DECU, Ahmedabad to assess the utilisation and the future plans of the states/hospitals/institutions regarding the telemedicine nodes.