Nine years, still no laws to standardise telemedicine

Guide book present, but rules have not been framed yet

However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is yet to frame laws that would standardise the technology across the country.

“ISRO, along with WIPRO and Department of Information and Technology, had brought out a guide book for practicing telemedicine four years ago. However, it is yet to be made into a rule book,” said Murthy L N Remilla, from ANTRIX Corporation Ltd, part of the Department of Space.

These concerns were raised during the annual conference of the Telemedicine Society of India held last fortnight.

“The Ministry of Health should now take the responsibility of implementing the project from ISRO. It should revise the guidelines and make it mandatory,” said Murthy, who co-authored the guidebook. He added that this was essential, as quality and proper standards play a major role in healthcare.

Currently, telemedicine is being practiced in the fields of radiology, paediatrics, cardiology, ophthalmology, diabetes and oncology.

Murthy said that since its inception in 2001, telemedicine nodes have increased from five to 396 till date. It is implemented in 330 remote hospitals, 14 mobile clinics and 52 specialist hospitals including army and navy networks like Kargil.

Murthy, who was also part of the National Taskforce on Telemedicine under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said that his team had also submitted a report on how to conduct a national survey of telemedicine service to the Union health department, which would help in evaluating the effectiveness and impact of the technology.

However, there is hope. Under National Rural Health Mission, the Union health department has started providing funds to states who want to implement the technology and raise awareness about telemedicine.

Apart from this, Murthy said, “Hospitals should implement this technology and if it’s not working, they should complain. It should also be part of the doctor’s daily duty chart.”

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