Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical health care from a distance.
It has been used to overcome distance barriers and to improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities. It is also used to save lives in critical care and emergency situations.
Telemedicine is one of the unique applications of Space Technology for societal benefit.
ISRO Telemedicine programme started in 2001 has been connecting remote/rural/medical college hospitals and Mobile Units through the Indian satellites to major specialty hospitals in cities and towns. ISRO Telemedicine network covers various states/regions.
In a major effort to improve emergency medical support to soldiers posted in high-altitude areas, especially Siachen, the Integrated Defence Staff of the Defence Ministry and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday to set up telemedicine nodes in critical places across the country.
As part of this, in addition to a functioning node on the Siachen glacier, four more nodes are being established to enable medical consultation between soldiers deployed on the glacier and medical echelons in the rear.
During winter months, many of the remote posts are cut off for several months because of adverse terrain and extreme weather, making emergency evacuation near impossible. Communication through satellite-enabled telemedicine nodes will be a paradigm shift in the delivery of lifesaving health care till the weather clears up and movement is possible.
This joint initiative by ISRO and the Armed Forces Medical Services will transform the reach of telemedicine to soldiers, airmen and sailors in remote and isolated posts.