In collaboration with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett announced a sweeping new effort to transform healthcare in rural India. The health projects, starting in Tamil Nadu, a state with a population of 62 million, reflect an extension of the Intel World Ahead Program, a global initiative to provide people in developing countries with the benefits of better, faster access to information and communications technology (ICT).
Barrett and Anbumani Ramadoss, India’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare, unveiled two projects conceived when they met last November. At the time, Intel had deployed its first remote health programs in a digital village pilot in Baramati, a small town about 120 kilometers from Pune. The pilot in Baramati attracted the attention of government and industry leaders, inspiring e-health projects that will be deployed across Tamil Nadu and the country. The projects include a tele-health program for community hospitals and a school health-monitoring system.
"Applying technology in pioneering ways can help increase access to healthcare and improve quality of care for people everywhere," said Barrett, who also chairs the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development. "We’ve seen how technology has enhanced people’s lives in Baramati, and look forward to seeing this replicated on a larger scale across Tamil Nadu and the rest of the country."
"Digital health solutions are the most appropriate tools for achieving our objective of providing health care to the poorest citizens living in the remote areas of our country," Ramadoss said. "We are confident that these solutions that we’re implementing here can be a model for developing communities worldwide, and will also help us to reduce disease burden on our healthy citizens – poor or rich."
During his visit to Tindivanam, a town in Tamil Nadu, Barrett participated in the inauguration of a tele-health pilot project at Tindivanam Taluk Hospital, a 100-plus bed facility serving a taluk of more than 210,000 people. The pilot is being driven by Bangalore’s Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital and Chennai’ Sankara Nethralaya hospital, as well as Indian-based companies Microsense, S.N. Informatics and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
The web-based Health Referral System aims to provide improved and cost-effective access to high-quality healthcare and is hosted on TCS’ WebHealthCentral portal. The project will bring community residents the benefits of health screening and remote diagnostics by specialists, beginning with ophthalmology and cardiology. It will also enable doctors to view patient records and diagnostic images such as retinal scans over a secure computer network. Through videoconferences, specialists across India can also examine patients remotely.
While in Tindivinam, Barrett also visited the St. Philomena Girls’ Higher Secondary School for a firsthand look at a children’s health monitoring system developed by TCS. This first-of-its-kind project in the state addresses both healthcare and education by installing technology that helps ensure the government-aided school is a safe and healthy place for children.
The Web-based solution introduces schoolchildren and faculty to such benefits as digitized health records and health camps with participatory, action-based health learning. TCS hopes to create a model that can be implemented in schools across the country.
"The e-health initiatives scaling across Tamil Nadu and the country prove how much can be achieved when private industry and government work hand-in-hand to help millions of citizens lead healthier lives," said Barrett who is making his ninth visit to India.