Rajagiri Hospital's telemedicine service comes to the aid of patients in Kerala's hilly districts

31st July 2020
Rajagiri Hospital's telemedicine  service comes to the aid of patients in Kerala's hilly districts
Kevin Devasia (standing) at the launch of a new telemedicine centre of Rajagiri Hospital

Part III of our ongoing series on Telemedicine technologies highlighted by the coronavirus lockdown.....
Kochi, July 31 2020: An exemplar of this new telemedicine avatar  that the Covid-19 lockdown has embraced,  can be found in some recent  Indian implementations.
The Rajagiri Hospital in Aluva, Kerala, an institution run by the CMI (Carmelites of Mary Immaculate) Congregation, is one of the biggest Multi-specialty hospitals in the state. It was in 2017 that Fr. Johnson Vazhappilly CMI, Executive Director and CEO, had an early foresight towards bringing in Kevin Devasia, who for 14 years worked to sustain the Apollo Telehealth initiative, and joined Rajagiri with the mandate of creating a Telemedicine Network.  
Today as Assistant Vice President, Telemedicine Services, Kevin presides over a technology-intensive operation which includes 13 partner hospitals in Kerala, 4 centres in Africa and one each in Mumbai and Oman in the Middle East, where patient reports like ECG, angiograms, CT and MRI scans are captured and transmitted electronically to the Aluva hospital.   
For better  security, the telemedicine system uses a proprietary video conference tool and not one of the free and commercial tools.
Explains Kevin: “Initially we had a small base of patients who used the telemedicine service, mainly for follow up and post-surgical care, but during the lockdown this year, we saw the demand shoot up. We were handling over a thousand patients at a time and it was the zeal and support of our doctors, many connected from their homes, that made this possible".
The hospital attracts many patients who travel 100 -200 kms from hilly districts of the state like Idukki and Kottayam.   Barred from travelling, they turned to the telemedicine tool and consulted specialists at Rajagiri incomfort, for uninterrupted clinical care. 
In a 100% literate state like Kerala, Kevin expects the experience will persuade many patients to go the online route in future too. ANAND PARTHASARATHY
(This story appears as part of the cover feature in the August 2020 issue of Science Reporter , the monthly  popular science publication of CSIR.  Find full cover story PDF here)