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Skype utilised to monitor PHCs

Tech-savvy:Collector Smita Sabharwal interacting with medical teams of PHC through Skype in Karimnagar on Friday. --Photo: T. Ajay Pal Singh  

The Skype, the internet-based communication tool, has come in handy for the district administration to ensure effective functioning of all the primary health centres (PHC) and government hospitals to provide proper medicare to the rural people in Karimnagar district.

Karimnagar is the first district in the State to use the Skype technology to maintain round-the-clock monitoring of the government hospitals, attendance of doctors and para-medical staff, etc. It is a common phenomenon in government hospitals that the doctors and para-medical staff abstain from their duties without prior notice to their higher officials and neglect their duties forcing the poor patients to suffer.

Ever since Collector Smita Sabharwal launched the ambitious “Amma Lalana” (Mother’s nurture) programme a year ago to encourage institutional deliveries particularly in the government hospitals, the Medical and Health Department had provided all the 72 PHCs with the computer equipment to send short message service (SMS) alerts to the pregnant women to visit the hospital for treatment, check-ups, etc.

Novel idea

Following the complaints about the absenteeism of majority of medical staff during the Collector and other officials inspection to various PHCs forcing the patients to visit private hospitals for treatment, the Collector struck on the novel idea of using the Skype, internet-based video calling system to interact with the hospital staff, with basic addition of web camera on the desktop computer.

Accordingly, the authorities have fixed the cameras at 64 PHCs and the remaining 8 PHCs could not fix because of non-availability of internet facilities because of location in remote areas.

Minister for Civil Supplies D. Sridhar Babu had formally launched the Skype video conference with PHCs a month ago on an experimental basis.

Now, the Skype had come in handy for the district authorities to monitor the functioning of all hospitals. The Collector, Additional Joint Collector and DMHO could call any PHC and conduct video conferencing everyday and inquire about the attendance, out-patients and treatment of pregnant women, outbreak of seasonal diseases, etc.

The Collector and other officials are now randomly interacting with the PHC staff everyday and supervising the functioning of hospitals and treatment to patients. The Collector had also instructed the staff of PHCs to keep the computer on-line round-the- clock as they have provided with necessary power back-up facilities and warned of serious action if anyone switches off the system.

Collector Smita Sabharwal told The Hindu on Friday that “Our aim is to instil confidence on the performance of government hospitals and provide proper medicare to the rural poor”. She said that they would extend the same technology in all the social welfare hostels also.