The telemedicine service at AIMS is the first telemedicine centre in Kerala which was started in September 2002. This center was set up with the help of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which selected AIMS for its pilot telemedicine project in the state of Kerala. This is to provide the best medical care to the remote corners of India, to the people who cannot afford the treatment due to their inability to travel, cost, unawareness etc. Now, more than 60 centers in India are connected from AIMS. Aside from providing consultations to the remote corners of India, AIMS uses its telemedicine link to educate doctors in remote primary centres in the latest medical advancements through seminars, workshops and teaching programs.
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Telemedicine consultation services are provided to many geographically remote locations across the country starting from the islands of Lakshadweep to the mountains of Leh to the holy shrine of Sabarimala and to many other remote locations committed in bridging the health care gap.
Amrita telemedicine service provides primary specialist diagnosis, second opinion, recommends treatment and post treatment advice based on clinical details, appropriate radiological and laboratory investigations and consultation via video conferencing.
Remote doctor can have a teleconsultation about a patient with the specialist either with or without the presence of the patient. In the past ten years, we have so far provided over 5000 teleconsultations to the patients in remote places, which have helped them to avoid unnecessary travel to superspeciality hospitals. AIMS is by and large connected to most of the telemedicine centers across the country and also to some of the popular international centers.
A variety of health programs are telecasted to remote health centers having telemedicine facility for the benefit of the general public. We conduct various health awareness programs to the general mass and also health surveyors and other health facilitators. There are regular tele education classes being held by the community medicine department of AIMS to various tsunami affected areas within the state as well as outside the state.
Continuing medical education for the doctors, specialists, and nurses which include tele-education, training, and the sharing of information and opinions through seminars, workshop, and grand rounds (multi-specialty discussion). We have done more than 700 CME programs, conferences, and case discussions. These all are broadcasted to remote medical institutes and other medical colleges. These CMEs includes regular CMEs, national and international seminars, conferences, workshops and grand rounds.
A remote doctor can have a teleconsultation with an expert surgeon for conducting an operation. Though telemedicine is relatively new in India, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences has the distinction of conducting the first telesurgery in India.
Medical courses and classes are scheduled and conducted for students, doctors, and specialists remotely in various medical specialties.
It is mainly the practice of cardiology by using telemedicine technologies for providing outstanding cardiac care in a cost effective manner. Transmission of echocardiograms from the outreach site to the tertiary care site occurs in real time. Lakshadweep is a perfect example for the application of telemedicine since it is a group of islands located about 440kms away from the mainland, with a total population of about 60,000. We are successful in conducting telecardiology programs involving transferring electrocardiographs apart from cardiac consultation from various centers at Lakshadweep like IGH Kavaratti, Agatti etc and also with very remote centres like SNM Ley Ladakh, Civil hospital Shillong etc
Teleradiology is a means of electronically transmitting radiographic patient images and consultative text from one location to another.In the past ten years we have provided Tele-Radiology consultations to RK Mission hospital Ittanagar and our Lakshadweep centres.
Tele-Dermatology holds great potential for revolutionizing the delivery of dermatologic services. This provides a well-defined channel for interaction with experts in dermatology. In the past ten years we have provided teledermatology consultations to SNM Leh Ladakh, Indiragandhi hospital Kavaratti and RK Mission Ittanagar.
Within Tele-ophthalmology the patient care concern has focused mostly on the use of telemedicine for retinal evaluations, and more specifically for diabetic retinopathy. Several studies have evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of digital retinal imaging and its appropriateness for diagnosing and monitoring diabetic retinopathy.
If one pathologist were able to send the microscopic images they are viewing to another expert, in real time, the benefits for the patient and medicine may be immense. We have provided Tele-Pathology consultations to SNM Leh Ladakh, GBPH Portblair etc.We have also have clinical meetings with TVM Medical College, Calicut Medical college and SRMC Chennai.
Telepsychiatry is the use of electronic communication and information technologies to provide or support clinical psychiatric care at a distance. Telepsychiatry can be used clinically for both assessment and treatment, is effective for case conferencing and consultation-liaison work, and can be incorporated into a range of service delivery models. Telepsychiatry can enable rural and remote communities to gain access to psychiatric services as well as provide support for health care professionals in rural and remote locations.
It is the remote monitoring of critically ill patient at remote locations and by optimally utilizing this technology for the care of patients at remote hospitals across the country. One of the successful implementation of telementoring happened on 13th January 2003 when Amrita Emergency Care Unit located at Pampa (Sabarimala) was able to save the life of a devotee with the help of a telesurgical procedure performed using telemedicine facility. The cardiovascular thoracic surgeon guided the procedure remotely and the doctor at the emergency unit at Pampa performed the procedure successfully and the life of the patient was saved.
The Amrita Mobile Telemedicine Unit (AMTU) is the first mobile telemedicine unit in the state of Kerala. The centrally air-conditioned AMTU has state of the art satellite-based videoconferencing capability and is equipped with a wide range of equipment permitting a large range of functions including color echocardiography, cardiac treadmill, gastroscopy, colonoscopy, retinal camera, ultrasonography, X-ray radiography, electrocardiography, biochemical testing with a semi auto analyzer, light microscopy and a digital photography. The output from these devices can all be transmitted to a specialty hospital (typically AIMS) for expert opinion. The AMTU is equipped with a state of the art video conferencing unit connected to an extended C band 1.8m antenna and control unit for uninterrupted telemedicine linkup in all weather conditions. It has the capability to connect to any health care center that has a telemedicine facility. It is also equipped with the Amrita Health Information System (AHIS) telemedicine suite for electronically storing and transmitting patient data including medical images. The AMTU allows a wide range of healthcare services to be delivered with minimal expertise and infrastructure at the peripheral end. It also ensures increased utilization of medical facilities, manpower and technology while minimizing maintenance costs since the need for fixed infrastructure and equipment can be avoided. From the patients perspective they benefit from easier access to advanced healthcare and specialty consultation, saving time and travel expenses. AMTU fulfilled its promises when it was successfully assisted in delivering health care at the Amrita medical center in Pampa at Sabarimala.
AIMS telemedicine is proud to be one of the five centers selected by the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India for providing telemedicine and CME services to fifty three health care centers in the African subcontinent. These hospitals in Africa would also be linked to one remote hospital (Patient-End Locations) in each of the 53 countries as part of the project to extend healthcare services to rural Africa. The first CME commenced on May 4th 2009 at 4.00 p.m IST where 13 hospitals in Africa was connected simultaneously from the new Amrita -PAN African E- health network center located at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences.
We have collaborations with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) through establishment of Village Resource Centres (VRC) at various locations in Kerala and Tamilnadu.
The VRCs envisage benefits of satellite technology to be made available to the rural masses of the country. Established in 2006, these centres have been providing a variety of services such as teleconferencing in medical and agricultural fields, IT related programs and computer training. A large number of people have realized benefits by participating in the programs organized at the centres. Employability of the residents of villages and empowerment of women have been enhanced through programs and talks organized regularly at these centres.
Currently, we have VRCs at Amritapuri, Puthiyacavu, Parippally, Kalpetta and Mananthavady (all in Kerala) and Ettimadai (Tamilnadu). The Expert Centres at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Kochi and at Amrita Vishwavidyapeetham headquarters at Ettimadai ensure that quality programmes on a regular basis are offered.
The telemedicine department of AIMS has been instrumental in coming up with programmes in the form of lectures by specialist medical practitioners whose expertise has helped bring awareness of health and hygiene. Teleconferencing in agriculture and in other areas of general interest have predominantly been organized by the expert centre at Ettimadai. In addition to the aforementioned online programs, the VRCs have been organizing offline programmes such as awareness talks by local experts, and conducting computer classes, spoken Engish classes and Yoga classes benefiting a broad spectrum of people like tribal youth, unemployed youth and housewives.
With expansion of Amrita VRC network it is hoped to offer e-learning and telemedicine consultation services as well by joining hands with AIMS and similar institutions that have social responsibilities and community services high on their list of objectives.
AIMS campus is well connected to the world of knowledge by our prestigious satellite networks. ISRO satellite network known as the edusat connects four of our main campuses (Ettimadai, AIMS, Amritapuri and Bangalore) of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in three states. The satellite link can make a two-way audio-video communication channel with a high bandwidth capability. Students from any of the Amrita campuses can not only attend, but can also interact in lectures taking place in other campuses. The high bandwidth satellite network has made Amrita University a fully interactive, multimedia capable, multi-disciplinary virtual university - the first of its kind in the nation without geographical constraints.