Title: Portable Health Clinic- An Advanced Telehealthcare System for Unreached Communities
Healthcare facility is a basic right for all human being. Unfortunately, the shortage of qualified doctors and health workers, insufficient medical facilities and lack of healthcare awareness in the remote areas remain as some major obstacles for ensuring a standard level of healthcare service in the developing countries. Under this circumstance, preventive healthcare and telemedicine could be considered as keys to overcome this situation. Keeping this in mind, the Portable Health Clinic (PHC) system has been developed as an advanced telemedicine system. This system, also called `Doctor in the Box`, enables bringing healthcare services to the doorstep of the rural communities at an affordable price. PHC is a system with installed digital medical equipment and internet connectivity enables sharing patient`s vital information to the remote doctor and video conferencing between doctor-patient for direct consultancy. This system also automatically preserves all electronic health records (EHR) of all patients to the online server for future reference.
Although, it was developed with a primary target of rural communities, it is found equally effective for the urban aged community for home delivery service. So far, more than 40,000 patients have been provided with healthcare services in Bangladesh. During this process, some new requirements have been identified and new features have been added to the system. Tele-pathology and Tele-eyecare are two such modules. Currently, mother-and-child care and dental care are in the pipeline for future development in this modular system.
Since most of the developing countries are facing the same problem and having a similar situation, easily replicable PHC system can be of good use there. So far, this system has been replicated in India, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Liberia with some localizations. However, there is still a lot of opportunities for further improvement of the system and expansion of the service to the other parts of the world.
Dr. Rafiqul Islam Maruf is working as an Associate Professor at Medical Information Center of Kyushu University Hospital under Kyushu University, Japan. Before joining here in this October, he has been working as a Director (Operations) of Global Communication Center, the ICT based R&D wing of Grameen Communications, Bangladesh. Earlier Dr. Maruf worked in Japanese IT industries for 12 years after completing his Ph.D. in Information Engineering in 1993 from Hokkaido University, Japan. Dr. Maruf has been associated with various Internet standardization organizations, government bodies, and business communities. He has attended many International Conference, Seminars and events of ICT around the world and spoke on ICT for development. His interest covers the areas including ICT for agriculture, education, environment, information, and healthcare.