eHealth programme expands: telepsychiatry services for Northern Pakistan
May 21, 2014
The introduction of telepsychiatry clinics between the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi and Gilgit Medical Centre will now make it possible for the rural population of Gilgit and neighboring areas to seek treatment from specialists based at AKUH, K without having to leave their region.
The Department of Psychiatry, Aga Khan University; Aga Khan Development Network eHealth Resource Centre and Aga Khan Hospital Service, Pakistan collaborated to ensure provision of reliable connectivity and necessary equipment; develop psychiatric assessment forms; and train physicians and nurses in Gilgit as first point-of-contact with patients.
Dr Ayesha Mian, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry at AKU, played a leading role in making this connection possible. "I think this new link has the potential of having a huge impact. From teleconferencing with patients, hosting a Depression Day, building capacity in health care providers, there is so much we can do because of this new connection. eHealth is such a fantastic way of reaching underserved areas. The best use of our time is to build awareness at the community level and capacity in our health care providers," she says. Dr Murad Musa Khan, Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, AKU, helped in launching the service; Dr Tayyab Arfeen, another faculty member of the department, is the psychiatrist currently conducting the clinics.
Speaking on challenges encountered, Dr Mian says, "there were of course challenges along the way. Customising the screening forms and educating nurses on administering the forms took time. But the AKDN eHRC team was very helpful. There was never an occasion when they didn't understand and provide a solution to our request."
After the successful introduction of telepsychiatry services, AKDN eHRC now plans to assist AKHS, P and AKUH, K with initiating teledermatology services at GMC.
Source: Aga Khan Development Network eHealth Resource Centre