The advent of new-age Information Technology has not only revolutionised the field of communication, but has also opened new dimensions in the field of healthcare. Using technology to enable remote populations get better access to doctors might have been unfathomable till a few decades back. However, today Tele Medicine as we call it is a fledgling phenomenon. It allows healthcare practitioners to break the barriers of distance and reach patients sitting even in remote areas using video conferencing tools. The first real use of video communication in medicine can be traced back to the 1950s and 60s when the University of Nebraska established a two-way television set up, which was linked with a state hospital to perform video consultations. In India, Apollo Hospitals Group pioneered the concept of telehealth 20 years back. On March 24, 2000, Bill Clinton, the then US President, commissioned the world’s first VSAT enabled village hospital at Aragonda in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh, marking the formal introduction of telehealth services in India.
Today, telehealth has emerged as a viable tool for healthcare providers and governments to improve accessibility, provide remote care, and help them in achieving Universal Healthcare. According to market research, the global telehealth market is expected to grow to around USD 20 billion by 2026. India’s telehealth market too is growing at a rapid pace as more and more healthcare organisations start looking at telehealth as a workable solution to address geographical disparities in the availability of healthcare services. In fact, NITI Aayog members have also held consultations with stakeholders to analyze the role telehealth can play in making the goal of 1,50,000 health & wellness centres under Ayushman Bharat a functioning reality.
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