UPMC and TeleChikitsa tie up to bring cutting edge medicine to India

IT-HealthcareUniversity of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences or UPMC is all set to make a foray into Indian healthcare. The leading medical center based out of the US has tied up with India's TeleChikitsa Ventures, based in Bangalore with an aim to provide leading and cutting edge healthcare to India. As a part of their project UPMC is all set to aid India and Afghanistan with their healthcare needs. With an aim to spread their brand overseas, UPMC will use video equipment to examine patients, second opinions and consultations to patients.

Greg Billings, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law in Washington says, 'What you're seeing is the tip of the iceberg. More and more international delivery of medicine and medical care is going to take place with countries that need additional medical resources. Dr. Andrew Watson, chief medical information officer for UPMC's International and Commercial Services Division, said, 'In India, physicians from UPMC specializing in oncology , pulmonology and colorectal cancer will be available for consultation within 48 hours of making a request.'

The healthcare giant has also tied up with Onsite Occupational Health and Safety Inc. in Afghanistan to provide them with consultations in dermatology, infectious disease, neurology and orthopedics. Dr Watson said that medical experts from those countries reach out to the doctors of UPMC because they are familiar with UPMC's hospitals and doctors and it is now a world without boundaries. With the advent of telemedicine there is no corner of the world where medical aid cannot reach. The possibilities are endless and UPMC is definitely taking a strong step towards it.

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While the amount UPMC's doctors will be paid for their services have not been disclosed but the fact that they will be paid a flat fee for each consultation is known. Moreover telemedicine is still not covered by health insurance but with people being able to consult with doctors from the US, they don't mind paying an extra buck for their services. On talking about the lack of being able to physically check the patient for any kind of disease, Dr Watson says, 'watching somebody examine a patient is almost as good as examining a patient yourself.'

Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, said more than 200 U.S. academic medical centers have telemedicine partnerships abroad. Some do it for charitable purposes and others start business ventures, he said. Telemedicine is widely used by community hospitals that lack specialty doctors. 'Within 15 minutes of taking a call, doctors can jump on a laptop to examine patients, review brain images in real time, counsel families and help doctors make treatment decisions, said Dr. Ashis Tayal, medical director for AGH's comprehensive stroke center.

'It has allowed us to make appropriate recommendations as to whether patients could stay at those community hospitals or benefit from a transfer,' he said. UPMC's telemedicine division has agreements in China, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Colombia, Mexico, Ireland and Italy, officials said.

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