The shortage of faculty for medical colleges can be addressed by using the extensive coverage of the National Knowledge Network to transmit classroom lectures, S.S. Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya, has said.

The institution had suggested to the NKN that its network be used to transmit the goings on in its post-graduate classes to benefit several students across the country, he said. The IITs had already been linked via the NKN, and it would be of great significance to medical education if teaching institutions too were included as part of the network.

Speaking at the inaugural of the workshop on Information Communications Technology (ICT) in health care, Dr. Badrinath said tele-ophthalmology could also be utilised to serve people in areas with no access to such care. Through the process, a non-medical staff member who operates out of a fully-equipped van takes pictures of the patient and transmits it digitally via satellite links to the medical personnel in a tertiary care set up. This ensures access to quality care to even remote and otherwise underserved parts of the state.

Dr. Badrinath also urged doctors to take up ICT and make their practice quality-oriented. He hoped that over the course of time, the use of ICT in their daily practice would gain greater acceptance among all practitioners. It is specially of great benefit in cases that require cross consultations, and in evidence based medicine, he said.

Sumanth Raman, head-healthcare innovations, Tata Consultancy Services, Chennai, said there was great potential to transform lives using available technologies, but it is important to remember that at the heart of the issue was the user. Every hospital or doctor has to understand their specific needs, evaluate its utility for them, and get customisations suited to their purposes, he said.

Applications may be great, but they must match a change in the mindset of the user, and satisfy a felt need, he added. Describing various applications that may be of use in health care, Dr. Raman added a note of caution- the vendors must be chosen well.

S. Sampath Kumar, worskshop co-ordinator, explained the key features of the workshop which saw the participation of both medical and IT professionals.

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