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Home > News > PTI

A-I to get sick passengers on-board treated by doctors on ground

January 23, 2006 00:22 IST
Last Updated: January 23, 2006 00:35 IST

Medical emergency in the air being treated by specialist doctors on the ground? Seems unbelievable, but this will soon be a reality when Air-India starts flight operations with its newly-acquired fleet of Boeing aircraft equipped with tele-medicine facilities.

The national carrier is planning to introduce the facility for on-board passengers next year connecting the airborne plane to the specialist medical institution, Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore through latest communication facilities, top AI officials told PTI.

"By 2007, we will have newly acquired aircraft, which are equipped with state-of-the-art communication facilities. We
are planning to connect the flying aircraft with the hospital on the ground," the official added.

With high speed internet and other broad band satellite communication facilities, information relating to sick and
disabled passengers, if any on board the aircraft, could be provided immediately by the crew to the hospital.

Currently, sick passengers on board are treated by the in-flight crew.

"If there is any doctors on board, we will ask their help. But telemedicine will enable us to provide sound medical
advice before treating sick passengers on board in case of emergencies. This would also increase the confidence level of the crew in treating such emergency cases on board," he said.

Air India last week signed an agreement with Boeing to buy 68 aircrafts at an estimated cort of Rs 35,000 crore and
the deliveries are accepted to start by November 2006.

The airline has already reached an agreement with Narayana Hrudayalaya for treating A-I employees via tele-medicine connecting A-I's medical service department in South Mumbai to the facility in Bangalore.

Tele-medicine is a concept whereby medical advice is rendered over the phone or through video conferencing to
patients at a far off location without actually visiting the medical institute or the hospital.

The system consists of customised hardware and software at both the patient and doctor ends with diagonistic tools
like Electro Cardiogram, X-Ray and pathology provided at the patient end linked through digital conectivity via INSAT satellites by VSATs controlled by the network hub station of Indian Space Research Organisation.

ISRO started the telemedicine facility in 2002 from Andaman Nicobar Islands using INSAT-3C satellite.

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