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Four years of experience of telemedicine for paediatric care in three Punjab hospitals, North India: achievements and lessons
  1. Meenu Singh,
  2. Rashmi Ranjan Das
  1. Advanced Pediatric Centre (APC) & Telemedicine Centre, Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Meenu Singh, Telemedicine Centre, Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh-160012, India; meenusingh4{at}gmail.com

Abstract

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.

  • Children
  • e-healthcare
  • telehealth
  • telepaediatrics
  • videoconferencing
  • telemedicine
  • health informatics

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Footnotes

  • 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.

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