VIDUSUWA = An Innovative Patient Centric Telemedicine Solution for Electronic Remote Healing
Two Sri Lanka Doctors, Dr. Keith R.P. Chapman, Consultant, General and Laparoscopic Surgeon, from the Ministry of Health and Nutrition and Dr. Shiromi Arunatileka, Senior Lecturer, University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) recently received India’s prestigious “Manthan” award for Best e-Content in the category of eHealth in South Asia (http://www.manthanaward.org) for their ground breaking work in ViduSuwa (Vidyuth Durastha Suwaya) – A Patient Centric Telemedicine Solution. According to the Grand Jury, the “Manthan” was awarded to ViduSuwa because the project is based on the concept of a patient centric approach in utilizing ICT and providing a working model developed solely by Sri Lankan professionals in the IT and health sectors to empower the rural population of Sri Lanka. It is a remarkable project that will revolutionize the transfer of health records and benefits to rural patients.
Earlier, ViduSuwa (http://www.vidusuwa.com) achieved national recognition by winning the “e-Swabhimani” award for the best eContent for eHealth in Sri Lanka. The concept is well accepted at National and International level in IT and eHealth circles and at Conferences in e-Society, eIndia, eAsia and eTelemed. It has been the subject of discussion and education among healthcare professionals at several seminars on eHealth, both local and abroad.
ViduSuwa is all about providing tele-medicine facilities to the remote areas of Sri Lanka. In a country that is rebuilding itself from decades of war, providing extended healthcare facilities to every section of the society is a complex challenge. ViduSuwa offers to meet this challenge by delivering health services at a minimal cost. Patients living in the most remote areas can now receive the services of experts in the medical profession even if they are hundreds of miles apart. People can benefit without unnecessarily travelling great distances to meet medical consultants, thus saving cost and inconvenience. It also minimizes unnecessary transfer of patients between health institutions while knowledge transfer is facilitated between healthcare professionals.
ViduSuwa, brings the peripheral patient and a centrally based medical specialist together in a virtual clinic following accepted medical ethics and guidelines as they would in a normal clinic. An Electronic Medical Record system (EMR) is used to transfer the information and a qualified doctor is present with the patient in the periphery during the consultation. This is achieved by using easily acquirable and relatively inexpensive technology. This concept can be practiced with very little extension to existing technology. According to Dr.Keith Chapman, the whole scenario consists of four main components - an eConsultation Centre in a Base Hospital or higher institution, an eClinic at a peripheral hospital or mobile health unit, a web-based EMR system and an m-communication system (mobile communication).
The Vidusuwa software was developed by a team from the University Of Colombo School Of Computing consisting of staff and BICT degree students. The various aspects of the EMR itself were built to accommodate the local specialists who will be using the system and caters to many medical specialties. This project uses an evolutionary approach in order to have a smooth eTransformation. The pilot project is being carried out at the Base Hospital Marawila and the District Hospital Dankotuwa which are the specialist eConsultation Centre and the Peripheral eClinic respectively. E-Consultations are conducted weekly in the fields of surgery and dermatology.
Financial assistance for the ViduSuwa project is provided by the e-Society Programme of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA). The connectivity for the Pilot project is generously offered by Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT). Dr. Shiromi Arunatileka acknowledged the dedication and hard work of the Doctors and staff of Marawila, Dankotuwa and the National Hospital Colombo, all academic staff and students of UCSC who have contributed to making ViduSuwa a success.
Sri Lanka Journal of Bio-Medical Informatics 2010;1(2):118-119