Teleradiology technology introduced to 20 state hospitals | Daily News

Teleradiology technology introduced to 20 state hospitals

Health, Nutrition, and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne took part in an event to introduce teleradiology technology to 20 state hospitals on Wednesday at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, a press release from the Health Ministry said.

This event comes after signing an agreement with REDtone MEX SdnBhd, Malaysia, and Hinacom Software and Technology Ltd, China, to provide nationwide medical imaging, filmless radiology information system infrastructure, and network connectivity to 20 state hospitals.

The minister said that it took three years to reach an agreement with the two companies, and that this is symbolic of the inefficiency of the administrative officers of the Health Ministry.

“This is an important day for us. Government hospitals will have access to teleradiology technology, which allows the transmission of radiological patient images such as x-rays, CTs, and MRIs from one location to another for the purposes of sharing studies with other radiologists and physicians,” he said.

“The foundations of what we call telemedicine today were laid in the 19th century and Teleradiology is one branch of that field. In 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen discovered the X-ray and nearly two weeks after his discovery, he took the very first picture using X-rays of his wife Anna Bertha’s hand. By 1987, this technology was digitised. Initially, X-ray technology was used to detect things such as bone fractures, but now it can detect almost anything in the body,” the minister added.

He said that it was impossible for the government to deploy specialists to all government hospitals. With teleradiology, doctors in rural areas would be able to send medical images to specialists in bigger hospitals, he added.

“When treating a patient, time is of the essence. We have given teleradiology infrastructure to 20 state hospitals. Doctors in rural hospitals can use this infrastructure in a hospital near him or her. They can send images to specialists and the specialist will be able to instruct what cause of action to take,” Minister Senaratne said.

“Thus, doctors in rural hospitals can take the necessary action to save lives. Most patients die during transport and the mismanagement of post treatment. Teleradiology can also help with this. Now, even a general practitioner can have access to instructions and advice from an expert hundreds of miles away. This allows even the poorest segments of the people to access top-quality health care,” the minister added.

Minister Senaratne added that teleradiology will allow Sri Lankans to even access the advice of a US-based specialist. The minister added that Sri Lankan doctors had the assistance of foreign experts when the first heart surgery was done. The Health Minister also expressed his displeasure at the delay in implementing this project.

“It took us three years to get this project off the ground. I think Health Ministry officials now know how big these two companies are. REDtone MEX SdnBhd, Malaysia, and Hinacom Software and Technology Limited, China, are giants in telemedicine. Officials must know who we are dealing with here,” he said

“For a long time, Ministry officials didn’t attempt to expedite this project. Because of this lethargy, it took us three years to introduce teleradiology to the country. Imagine the amount of lives we could have saved if we had introduced this technology two years ago. We are responsible for the lives lost during this period,” he added.

The minister said that if Health Ministry officials do their job right, they can make a great difference in the lives of people. However, most Ministry officials get sidetracked by minute issues and ignore the benefits that the introduction of new medical technologies would bring, he added.

“If we don’t pay attention, we will lose a lot of opportunities. A number of foreign investors have arrived in Sri Lanka.

“However, most officials are not interested in seizing this opportunity; they don’t care if these investors get disillusioned or leave the country,” the minister said.

“Most officials seem to only care about the salary that they get at the end of the month, and the perks. The lack of efficiency is not punished at all.

“The media sometimes doesn’t do its job right, too. When we push officials to expedite important projects, they tell the media that the minister is trying to influence them. The media must investigate these issues before publishing such claims. They should not report it just because someone says so,” he added.

According to the Treasury, the Health Ministry had attracted the most amount of foreign investments to Sri Lanka. More such projects are to be implemented soon and teleradiology would be eventually developed into a full-scale telemedicine service, the minister said.

“We are digitising hospitals rapidly. If the Health Ministry falls sick, the entire country falls sick. Therefore, we must carry out the other projects we have planned, too,” Minister Senaratne added.

Additional Secretary (Development) S.J.S. Chandraguptha, Deputy Director General (Medical Services) Dr. Amal Harsha De Silva, REDtone MEX Sdn Bhd CEO Yee Kar Fong, and Hinacom Software and Technology Ltd CEO Tony Cui were also present at the event.

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