Remote Health Care Technologies Gain Ground

November 22, 2010 in Health Care


San Francisco, CA ( Telemedicine technologies are an increasingly popular way MD’s and nurses can “meet” their patients without having to be in the same physical location. A specially designed room at the University of Nebraska Medical Center allows health care personnel get in touch with patients at remote nursing homes throughout the state. With the advance of technology, people who don’t have easy access to a specialist can now be treated, said Thomas Magnuson, MD, in an interview for Amednews.

With the nation-wide shortage in skilled registered nurses and MD’s, telemedicine is a viable alternative to traditional, face to face counseling. It ranges from phone and email consults to video conferences and even surgeries performed by robots operated by professionals thousands of miles away.

The benefits of the technology are obvious, both for patients and health care staff:

  • Patients no longer have to travel to remote locations for consultation. “I live in a state that has not a lot of people, but a lot of area,” continued Dr. Magnuson. “We have a lot of isolated places. We just had a big patient population out there that wasn’t being seen”. Telemedicine can be used to meet the needs of under served areas.
  • Nurses and doctors can treat remote patients as if they were in their offices. A lot of valuable time spent on commuting can thus be saved and used on lab work. Also, more patients can be serviced with fewer personnel—in other words, we’re talking about better service with lower costs.

Telemedicine is by far not novelty at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The public debut was somewhere in 1924, when Radio Magazine showed a doctor examining a patient with a radio device equipped with a screen. A few decades later, the research center began to experiment treating patients over a CCTV system and later, in 1960, NASA sponsored the university with a telemedicine solution. Nowadays, the telemedicine facility is backed up by Cisco’s HealthPresence, a state-of-the-art communication package that offers HD video, advanced audio and seamless transmission of medical data between patient and doctor.

Telemedicine is still far from mainstream use. Sustainability is yet to be achieved in this field, even though the trials have been a success. However, setting up several working pilots throughout the country has proven that the technology is matured and research is being carried in the right direction.

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