Hospitals across the city have been struggling due to low data transmission capabilities of local internet and mobile network connections. Digital transmission of reports of diagnostic procedures like MRI, CT scan and others are often delayed due to poor connectivity, and this has prompted the Hospital Association of Pune to send a grievance letter to not just several mobile companies but also to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The PMO has acknowledged the complaint that was sent on November 19 by the Association.
Bomi Bhote, president of the Hospital Association of Pune, told The Indian Express that poor network had made even the process of getting in touch with doctors working in the same hospital a time-consuming one.
In the complaint, the Association pointed out that the healthcare industry had grown digitally and was dependent on availability of connection. Laboratory reports and others that have to be transmitted digitally to consultants, so that they can take prompt decisions regarding patient’s treatment, were delayed. “The network capability and competence is pathetically low and this affects the delivery of healthcare to the patient,” Bhote has stated in the complaint.
Network failure and frequent call drops have also made the task of emergency services which tend to patients in distress, such as the state Emergency Medical Services (EMS), tougher.
The telecom service provider is supposed to route calls made to 108 to the EMS control room at Aundh. But, said Dr Dnyaneshwar Shelke, chief operating officer of EMS project, “… The calls don’t reach the control room and we have had callers telling us that they had telephoned multiple times but the 108 EMS number was unreachable”.
The issue of poor connectivity was linked to accessibility to health care and how it affects patient, said Dr Avinash Naniwadekar, director of Radiology at Ruby Hall Clinic. “Doctors are frequently told by patients that when they want to seek medical advice, they are not able to connect due to call drops,” said Dr Sameer Sonar, in-charge of the Ruby Hall Clinic’s nuclear medicine department.
Personnel at some hospitals said it was sometimes difficult to get in touch with doctors within the premises due to poor network, and they had to rely on WhatsApp calls. The poor network also adversely affects the telemedicine outreach programme which supports healthcare in areas with limited medical services, said Dr Naniwadekar.
Hospital authorities under the aegis of the Hospital Association of Pune have reported this increasing frustration over accessibility and even though there are lease lines of various service providers, congestion was an issue, said Bhote.
Over 74,000 BSNL employees apply for VRS, nearly 1,400 in Pune
BSNL authorities said the issues pertaining to connectivity will be resolved soon. Sunil Kumar, principal general manager, BSNL, (Maharashtra circle), told The Indian Express that they also had plans to outsource services.
“The situation will improve soon,” said BSNL authorities.
Meanwhile, the BSNL voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) 2019, under which employees aged 50 years and above are eligible to opt for retirement, has seen nearly 1,400 applications from employees in Pune district. Across the country, over 74,000 employees have opted for VRS. The effective date of voluntary retirement under the scheme is January 31, 2020.
BSNL is looking at savings of about Rs 7,000 crore in the wage bill if at least 80,000 personnel opt for the scheme.
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