Saturday, 22 May, 2010

512 kbps of Mobile Healthcare

The other day I was sitting with my Mentors and I realised that Doctors in India can do wonders if we provide them with 512 kbps bandwidth on mobiles. Apollo Telemedicine Network Foundation and Ericsson started a program sometime back in 2007 called "Gramjyoti" in rural India and that was considered to be a big foray of telemedicine in rural healthcare.Thousands of people within the Gramjyoti project area covering 18 villages and 15 towns were able to use broadband applications. Ericsson worked in partnership with Apollo Hospitals, Hand in Hand (a local NGO), Edurite, One97, CNN and Cartoon Network to deliver a range of services including telemedicine, e-education and e-governance.

Point to be noticed is the prolem area. Sometimes the main factor itself is not the sole criterion on which the success of a project depends and that is what we learnt. Those were the days of GSM technology and the conditions of roads in India was bad especially in the rural areas. Consider a van where people are coming to Be treated/Operated.This van was well equipped but a small ditch or bump on the road, and the wireless transmitter used to turn 360 degrees and we could see nothing...Trust me if we can get 512 kbps on mobile, It will be like a boon for us Indian doctors to serve those patients who live in far-flung areas and need medical attention.

"In India, there are 1 million people that die each year purely because they can't get access to basic healthcare," said Dan Warren, director of technology for the GSM Association, the umbrella organisation that hosts the MWC.

For people in Rural areas, prevention still starts with Good roads, Better electrical and water supply, Proper Sanitation and then we can talk about Health and wellness with them.Through video conferencing, doctors based in Chennai, 70 km away, held surgery with patients in village citizen centres and the Gramjyoti broadband van. The patients were supported by paramedics who could administer ECG tests, blood pressure and injections. Overall 200 patients were treated like this during the trial.Ninety percentwere givenmedicines on site, and 35% have been referred to consultants.We used the UETR and GPEH to track for any problems that arise during drive test activity.

Lesson/Tip for a Rural Healthcare Project (If one is planning to start one):If you want to roll out 3G in a cost effective way, you need to attack capex and opex costs. Seventy percent of these are in the towers.Gramjyoti project with the help of network operators showed that site sharing works.The site sharing experiment showed that what we did in 20 villages, we could do in 250,000 villages without any problems.This is roughly the number of GSM cells in India and each one could share a tower with a 3G cell without interference. Operators came, the regulator came and people fromthe government came to see the trial and they left convinced that site sharing works. With site sharing and refurbished 3G handsets,we can bring the same economics to 3G that have made 2G such a success. It’s a myth than 3G HSPA is only for urban environments.

There's a business case for it now; you have to have the experience of the Healthcare Providers + Telecom Providers and on the ground talking to the big corporates out there and creating real business models, and that's the only way to success.

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