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Access to telemedicine & teleradiology inadequate in Asia: Dr Sunita Maheshwari

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Saturday, December 10, 2016, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Asia lags in adoption of the newer technologies and hence the penetration is very poor in terms of telemedicine and teleradiology space, stated Dr Sunita Maheshwari, co-founder, Teleradiology Solutions(TRS).
 
“We believe that there is huge scope for teleradiology if done properly by governments. The opportunity would be able to disseminate equitable healthcare to the vast underserved regions. At 12% CAGR, Asia shows the most promising growth amongst all the regions,” she added.
 
The utilization of teleradiology in India continues to increase especially in the private sector and in the diagnostic space. Internationally there is a move towards subspecialty teleradiology, use of cloud based technologies, and increasing establishment of quality standards and metrics in the practice of teleradiology, Dr. Maheshwari told Pharmabiz in an email interaction.
 
India faces a severe radiologist crunch, with barely 10,000 radiologists for a population of over one billion. Most of the radiologists are based in metros and so remote parts of the country are greatly in need of specialist radiologist reporting services.
 
By deploying teleradiology, we are able to help hospitals in remote locations obtain high quality reports. Further, at a time of radiologists shortage we are also able to help train young radiologists through our Radguru portal which is supported and funded by the Telerad Foundation. Efforts to develop teleradiology technologies for use in low bandwidth and remote areas are also a focus. This is because not all areas in Asia and Africa have access to good quality bandwidth which is a hindrance to the deployment of teleradiology services, she said.
 
“To counter the paucity of qualified radiologists, we conduct continuing medical education programs to upscale their knowledge to the latest advances in medical field. We currently run the e-teaching program for the radiology and cardiology post-graduates for the National Board of India. These e-classes are also open for African doctors and staff as well”, she said. Case discussions via telemedicine are regularly held between physicians in Africa and the specialists and super specialists at Teleradiology Solutions for their expert first and second opinions. By adopting a decentralized workflow through a sophisticated workflow platform Radspa, radiologists can work part time from their homes, and we are thereby able to access a larger pool of radiologist talent.
 
Typically in India, healthcare is provided from hospital systems. So the company does not compete but can complement healthcare delivery, said Dr. Maheshwari.
 
In India, the company is also working to partner governments implement their digital health strategy. In this regard, it worked with NHSRC in New Delhi to bring out a White Paper on Teleradiology and its applications for government use. For the National Board of Medical Examiners it will extend its services via e-learning portal Radguru.net to all radiology postgraduates and paediatric cardio students in the country. It is offering the teleradiology services to Tripura which is now transmitting digitized images electronically for faster diagnostics. For over a decade, the company has been partnering with the Ministry of Health in Singapore too.

 

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