State government of Himachal Pradesh (HP) has started a highly specialized doctor service through its telemedicine project to connect patients with physicians. The project, jointly launched by the Department of Information Technology (DIT) and the Department of Health, has taken into consideration the acute shortage of doctors in remote areas and tough geographical locations of hill state. It is being operated with the technical support from the CDAC Mohali.
Under this telemedicine system, several zonal, regional and circle hospitals have been connected with telemedicine facility through dedicated ISDN lines with a total cost of INR 4.51 crore. The latest initiative in the project envisages connecting 19 health centres at district, block and tehsil headquarters with IGMC Shimla and PGI Chandigarh through ISDN link to facilitate experts' advice. The DoIT had a dedicated 2MBPS leased line through BSNL and the link is being utilised for the patients' direct interface with experts sitting in Indira Gandhi Medical College and has further been extended to PGI Chandigarh.
The state Health Department's efforts to extend the basic medicare to all over the state has been hit by shortage of doctors and the reluctance of the specialists to serve in remote and tribal areas and the telemedicine project has proved a boon to provide quality health care services to the rural populations of the state.