Children in India constitute a very high risk group from mortality and morbidity due to lack of specialised healthcare. Remote care of paediatric patients by offsite specialists using telemedicine technology is a highly potential solution for coping up with the shortage of specialists in Indian subcontinent. We at a tertiary care teaching hospital in North India assessed the application of telemedicine services for diagnosis and management of paediatric illnesses, through prospective analyses of electronic databases over 4 years. The age groups covered were from newborn up to children of 15 years of age. The outcomes assessed were: feasibility, diagnostic possibilities, management, outcomes, referral and mean costs per patient. The results were as follows: major consultations involved children <5 years age, with neonates contributing to 5.5% of the total consultations. The major system-related problems were: gastrointestinal, respiratory, neurological, infectious and haematological. Referral was advised in 14.3% of cases. Ten percent of children were critically ill and could not have been in a position to be transported safely. Videoconferencing was done in 21.4% patients. There was a paucity of feedback and follow up of these consultations (12% of the total). The total savings for all the consultations per child was ≈1000 Indian rupees (approximately US$22) leaving behind the telemedicine consultation charges. To conclude, telepaediatrics in India is still in its fetal stage. The hurdles and medico-legal issues need to be addressed before the telepaediatrics service is widely accepted in India.
- health informatics
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Linked articles 092692.
Funding The Telemedicine Project in PGIMER, Chandigarh, is funded by the Government of India.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the institute ethics committee of the Telemedicine Project in PGIMER, Chandigarh.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.