Friday, November 03, 2006

Eye care through videoconferencing...

Or some shameless PR for a friend.

In a spare, one-room eye clinic in the rural South Indian village of Bodinayakannur, a 64-year-diabetes patient named V. Ramaswamy, and a medical technician sit facing a computer monitor. On the screen is a live video of an ophthalmologist at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Theni, nine miles away. Speaking into a microphone, the technician describes the patient’s condition to the remote physician, then hands the man the microphone. “For the last week, my eyes have been red and itching,” the patient, Ramaswamy tells the physician in Tamil, the local language. “There has been swelling and watering.” The physician prescribes five days of eye drops, explaining that Ramaswamy has an infection, and asks him to come to the hospital for a follow-up exam.

Later Ramaswamy, who had heard from a friend in town that he could go to a local eye clinic for a teleconference with a hospital doctor, said he might not have sought prompt treatment if he’d had to find a way to the hospital nine miles away. “They said I could talk straight to a doctor through the TV,” he says. “If I had to go to Theni, I would have put it off or maybe not gone at all. Because the clinic was here, I came right away.”

Plan is to have 50 of these remote eye clinics running soon serving some 2.5 million people across rural Tamland.

Enablers: Aravind, and Intel Research at UC Berkeley.

Aravind developed the concept of rural vision centers—primary eye clinics in rural areas, where patients can be remotely diagnosed by doctors via high-speed wireless videoconferencing; get prescription glasses, eye drops and blood tests; be referred to an Aravind hospital if surgery is needed; and receive post-operative care.


To connect the vision centers to Aravind hospitals, Intel and UC Berkeley researchers designed a point-to-point long-distance wireless infrastructure that combines a variation on IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) technology with off-the-shelf videoconferencing software and tools that hospitals can use to maintain the network.

Read the full thing here and here.

PS: Yeah, yeah, I did my part to save the world. I translated some of the patient interviews!


Ravi said...

Yeah, The Aravind eye Hospital founders are pioneers in every sense of the word. We had a case-study about them at B-school and all of us were awestruck at what they have done. Their HR practices are very interesting. For staffing, they recruit rural women and train them,thereby providing them with careers. The doctors are paid sub-market wages, and work there because of their devotion to the cause ( plus a chance to work with cutting edge technology )

Anonymous said...

Ravi: Yes, I have visted them a couple of times and have heard so much about them over the years. Awestruck is the right word.

Abi had put together a pretty comprehensive collection of links when Dr V passed away that you might find interesting -

Anoop said...

Good good. Some mention of this mysterious friend of yours for whom you wrote this plug would be good. :)