Dr. Harsha Rajaram, Vice President, Columbia Asia Hospitals
“Annual percentage of cancer detected at awareness camps is 5%”
Columbia Asia Radiology group (CARG) has been providing Tele radiology services since 2008. It has provided reporting services to nearly 100 plus clients across 9 countries. CARG has been extending this services to nearly 13 missionary hospitals across India and institutes such as Indian Cancer Society (ICS) through camps. Providing services at subsidized price for centers such as ICS, helps Columbia Asia (CA) play a role in creating awareness about cancer, which is the need of the hour. In addition, the remote patient base this institute serves caters to diverse and unique disease profile, this provides a great learning for urban based radiologist. CA has reported nearly 40,000 cases over the last 4 years for ICS. This year the camp for Teleradiology was headed by Dr. Harsha Rajaram, Vice President – Columbia Asia Hospitals. Dr. Harsha Rajaram shares his experience on the awareness drive and the intensity of the camp. Edited experts;
How many locals showed up at the various camps? What was the ratio of the cancer detected to the participants?
The Preventive Screening Camps are always area specific. Local partners ensure attendance. We try and cover the whole sample of that particular area. If it is full day screening, then ICS targets around 120 individuals and if the screening camp is of half day then targeted sample size is 50-60. The annual percentage the cancer detected to the participants is 4.77%.
What was learning from the camp? Would you look forward to more such camps?
ICS has undertaken Mobile Camps since 1984. In early years, Individuals were less aware of the risk factors and symptoms of Cancer. Now, thanks to social media, WhatsApp etc. Awareness levels are much improved. Awareness speakers- Volunteers undertake field visits to far flung villages and provide them general awareness about Cancer. Yes, we always look forward to conduct Preventive Cancer Screening Camp in order to increase their health seeking behavior.
Do you feel Technology in medical field was an added advantage in this situation?
Yes, Technology adds a great value to the medical field. There is improvement in the cancer detection rate as technology helps changes over time. We are thankful to Columbia Asia Hospital Bangalore for helping us providing tests reading. Receiving Reports within 24 hours is very encouraging, & impressive to Patients.
Technology is the leverage. Mobile bus mounted with Digital X-ray and Mammography is connected with Columbia Asia Center in Bangalore which provides the reporting services, Tele-radiology services on a moving platform/ bus, probably is one of its kind in India. Technology can further help in tracking of screened patient, better analytics and also help in getting expert medical opinion from anywhere in the world.
What is the importance of Tele- radiology and AI in cancer screening, kindly elaborate on the procedure?
Tele radiology has helped bridge and connect the needy population at remote places with experts from institutes such as CARG. Accurate reports from experts in the domain can be provided in short span of time with tele radiology. Artificial Intelligence can be a game changer in cancer screening.
Imaging plays a vital role in cancer screening and it is a proven fact that early detection has better mortality benefit. Lot of efforts to improve screening outcomes have mostly focused on intensifying resource expenditures like double instead of single-reading, more frequent screens, or supplemental imaging. Imaging analysis by AI, can be accurate and efficient, making it an ideal tool. The key though is the data on which the algorithm has been built, it is essential that AI should be mentored by expert clinician, build on validated data and good quality assurance program will ensure the good outcomes.
AI driven chatbots and virtual assistants can take care of basic yet tedious tasks like registering, history taking and also be a great engagement tool with the identified population.