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Table of Contents    
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 64  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 588-589

Author's reply Internet in neurosurgery

Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, Department of Neurosurgery, Apollo Main Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication3-May-2016

Correspondence Address:
Krishnan Ganapathy
Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, Department of Neurosurgery, Apollo Main Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 27147190

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How to cite this article:
Ganapathy K. Author's reply Internet in neurosurgery. Neurol India 2016;64:588-9

How to cite this URL:
Ganapathy K. Author's reply Internet in neurosurgery. Neurol India [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Nov 30];64:588-9. Available from: https://www.neurologyindia.com/text.asp?2016/64/3/588/181572


Pralaya Kishore Nayak commences his letter on “Internet in Neurosurgery” with Albert Einstein's observation, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction and the world will have a generation of idiots.” A knee jerk reaction to this statement would be that this is akin to shooting the messenger. The author then points out that anyone can put medical information on a web server, and the information retrieved may be incorrect or out of date. However, the rest of the letter appears to extoll the potential benefits of the internet. As the last batch of neurosurgeons in India, formally trained in the BC (Before Computers !) era, it has been my privilege to see a new species 'Homo digiticus' evolve, Marty Cooper, inventor of the cell phone, and Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web could never have foreseen that they would disprove Charles Darwin. According to Darwin's hypothesis, it has taken tens of thousands of years for a new species to evolve. Cooper and Lee reduced this to four decades. Interestingly, the speed of mutation is more in the emerging economies. Today, 6.1 out of 7.1 billion Homo sapiens have become 'Homo digiticus'. To me, being born as a Homo sapien, chips were something one ate, discs were parts of the spinal column, tablet was something a doctor prescribed, semi-conductors were people wishing they were heading an orchestra, and “out of sight” was “out of mind” – thanks to the internet and to 'Homo digiticus', these have a totally different connotation in the present era! 'Homo digiticus' uploads 25 hours of video content every minute or 3.5 billion videos per day. If 'Homo digiticus' watches videos for 24 hours a day, it would take 1100 years just to see all videos presently on U tube. Facebook has 95 billion photos. 188 million emails are sent per minute in addition to 12,000 new e queries every second. That the internet has resulted in a digital upheaval, which is truly transforming the society of the yester-years, is obvious. The discussion should no longer be on “internet and neurosurgery.” There is just no neurosciences without the internet!! Whether or not health information on the net is a bane or a boon; and, the effects of the rise of the internet usage on healthcare in India including virtual rural healthcare services have already been previously discussed.[1],[2],[3]

The Government of India in its National Telecom Policy envisages even a “Right to Broadband” scenario by 2020. The United Nations has already declared access to the Internet, a human right. This author had shown that 935 million Indians live in regions, where not a single member of the Neurological Society of India or the Indian Academy of Neurology resides.[4] At the same time TRAI (Telecom regulatory Authority of India) has confirmed that we now have a billion mobile phone subscribers and that wireless internet is growing exponentially with a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 30%. 450 million subscribers will be accessing the internet wirelessly by the end of 2017. Neurosurgery without the internet is like neurosurgery without knowledge of clinical neurology. It just cannot exist – period!

We obviously need to extend our reach. Deploying the internet, we can virtually be everywhere. Even the disbelievers and the sceptics will agree that Digital India is indeed happening. Non-availability of connectivity (which is steadily being addressed) is not the only problem. It is our mind set and ultra conservatism that stands in our way of embracing e-Neurosurgery and making it an integral part of our health care delivery system. The urban- rural health divide in India can to some extent be bridged, if only mobile internet is exploited. We should make ourselves available to everyone, anytime anywhere. It is assumed that neurologists and neurosurgeons, who are the cream de la crème of the society, will view the internet as an enabler to achieve an end, and not an end by itself.

By 2020, 50% of inhabitants in the west will wear one or more biosensors. 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet, 20% of which will be mobile. Machines will be interacting directly with each other. M to M, IoT and IoE (Machine to Machine, Internet of Things, Internet of Everything), the buzz words of today will become a reality in the smart health of the upcoming smart cities.[5] With a billion humans, using social networks, Dr. Facebook could very well be the new healthcare provider making distance meaningless and geography history! The internet of tomorrow will make super specialists as we know them today, an endangered species. Simple, user friendly, blue-tooth enabled, smart interactive fabrics will be a part of the telemedicine solution in the next decade. Wearable computing devices will transmit every conceivable information to the health care provider. The wearable motherboard will be a “platform” for sensors and monitoring devices unobtrusively monitoring the health and well-being of individuals directly and/or remotely. Society will want patients to take responsibility for their care. The internet has created cyber and virtual hospitals. International telemedicine licensure will eventually become a reality The effective delivery of neurological services through the internet will require establishment of new standards dealing with privacy, confidentiality, record keeping, encryption, guaranteed reliability, interpretability, legal obligations, multimedia applications, performance levels and security. Knowledge of authentication, authorization, equipment liability, and digital compression will be mandatory. It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

The rise of internet use and telehealth in India. Available from: http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2013/11/29/k- ganapathy- the- rise- of- internet- use- and- telehealth- in- india.  Back to cited text no. 1
Is a virtual rural healthcare service the answer for India? Available from: http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2014/03/13/krishnan-ganapathy-is-a-virtual- rural-healthcare-service-the-answer-for-india/?g=widget_default.  Back to cited text no. 2
Health Information on the Net – Bane or Boon? – Neurosciences Today 2001;5:220-2.  Back to cited text no. 3
Ganapathy K. Distribution of neurologists and neurosurgeons in India and its relevance to the adoption of telemedicine. Neurology India 2015;63:142-54.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ganapathy K. Smart Health care for Smart Communities. Asian Hospital and Healthcare Management. Vol 32, Oct 2015. Available from: http://www.asianhhm.com/information-technology/smart-health.  Back to cited text no. 5


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