ROLE OF TELEMEDICINE IN DELIVERING HEALTHCARE IN REMOTE AREAS OF A DEVELOPING COUNTRY Z. Ahmed Telemedicine Consultant, CEO, eHealth Services, Pakistan firstname.lastname@example.org Telemedicine, as the name implies, is medicine delivered across a distance. It essentially means that the patient and the healthcare provider are separated physically. In Telemedicine, the information moves, rather than the doctor or the patient. The information may include medical images, live two-way audio and video, patient medical records, output data from medical devices and sound files. Telemedicine is a revolutionary concept in health care as it saves lives by providing timely healthcare, reduces both the geographical limitations and the cost of treatment along with improving the quality of medical care. As Telemedicine is all about patients and their benefit, the applications should always be need driven as opposed to technology driven. With this premise, Pakistan’s first Hub & Spoke/s model of Telemedicine is established in the province of Sindh connecting 2 primary/secondary care hospitals in the rural areas to a tertiary care center in Karachi. With a population of more than 145 million people Pakistan only has around 13000 specialists in all fields and around 110000 registered doctors. This scenario is compounded with the fact that the above number of doctors and specialists are not evenly distributed in the country but are saturated in 3 – 5 major cities. With the limited human and financial resources. The only solution to the exorbitant need for healthcare to the rural areas of Pakistan can be provided by Telemedicine The basic method is store & forward Teleconsultation but real time videoconferencing is also available for selected patients. The essential Telemedicine applications in this model include: Teleradiology Teledermatology Telecardiology Telemedicine for all major diseases covered in internal medicine The model also includes distance learning module for doctors present in the remote hospitals.
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