Soon, telemedicine benefits for retd government staff at CGHS clinics
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, retired government officials are set to become beneficiaries of telemedicine services, which will be started by the Central Government Health Services (CGHS). The move will help senior citizens from making ‘avoidable’ visits referral hospitals for consultation in the absence of specialist doctors at the CGHS Wellness Centres.
A senior official in the health ministry said the government would roll out the initiative in November.
“The telemedicine facility or making specialist doctors available through video-conferencing would be first launched on a pilot basis at Chanakyapuri and Pandara Road CGHS centres in the national Capital,” the official said, adding that after its successful implementation, the project will be launched at all CGHS clinics across the country.
“One can’t deny that there is a shortage of specialist doctors at CGHS centres, thereby forcing senior citizens to visit referral hospitals like Safdarjung and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (RML), etc, for consultation and their approval for the continuance of medicines. Since the CGHS rules prevent a beneficiary from getting medicines after the prescribed period ends, they have to get the approval of a specialist doctor to procure the same free-of-cost from their nearest CGHS clinic,” the official said.
“This initiative aims to provide seamless and timely treatment to all CGHS beneficiaries visiting Wellness Centres. Under the initiative, a beneficiary will be connected directly with a specialist doctor through video-conferencing, while the scanned copy of his/ her medical history will be sent to the doctor,” the official said, adding that the service would be available when assigned specialist doctors fail to visit CGHS centres due to some prior engagements.
“We are ready to launch the plan at any point of time. We have done the preparations. A list of doctors from Safdarjung, RML and some other hospitals is ready. The process to train the doctors to adopt the system has also been initiated,” the official said.
At present, there are 276 allopathic CGHS clinics and 85 Ayush dispensaries, providing affordable healthcare to 30 lakh beneficiaries across the country. The scheme that covers all central government employees also has 19 polyclinics, three yoga centres, 73 laboratories, 17 dental units and two hospitals as well.
The Central government’s most successful health scheme has widened its coverage to 28 cities – Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Dehradun, Delhi & NCR, Gandhi Nagar, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jabalpur, Jaipur, Jammu, Kanpur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Meerut, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna, Pune, Ranchi, Shillong, Shimla and Thiruvanathapuram. A CGHS beneficiary gets both treatment and medicines for free.
The national Capital has 100 allopathic and 35 Ayush CGHS wellness centres. Recently, the government had directed all doctors at CGHS centres to provide consultation and primary out-patient services to every patient coming with symptoms of dengue or chikungunya.