Sunday, May 13, 2012

Telemedicine

 

Sadly, the United States lags behind many other nations in applying telemedicine, however with concerns about increasing cost of conventional office visits it is now becoming  more common.

In Europe SAMU or (SAMU - System of Emergency Medical  Assistance)  in France- has been in operation for many years. A similar system operates in Brazil.

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Telemedicine  incorporates the use of broadband and/or satellite communication between provider-provider provider-patient and provider-provider depending upon the need.

Telemedicine is defined the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance. The term includes a wide array of functionality

Most patients and providers picture a physician at one end of a link sitting in front of a video monitor talking to a patient in a different location.  However telemedicine is much more inclusive, including the following.

Telemedicine can be broken into three main categories: store-and-forward, remote monitoring and (real-time) interactive services

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Real Telemedicine in Action, Ready for the big time

Thousands of heart patients can take advantage of new technology at two Piedmont hospitals that makes their lives much easier.

Cone Health and Forsyth Medical Center are part of a pilot program testing Carelink Express by Medtronic. Carelink allows doctors to collect information from defibrillators and pacemakers in five minutes, much faster than before.

Steven Klein, cardiac electrophysiologist at Cone Health, said hospitals used to call in technicians at all hours of the day to get information from the implant.

“Once they made the decision to do it, it would probably take 30 minutes to an hour before someone could get there to look at the information,” Klein said.

And if there’s nothing, patients can be released more quickly, saving them money, Klein said.

“The patient care is improved because they don’t have to spend so much time in the emergency room,” Klein said.

Carelink device also allows doctors to get information while the patient is at home.

The pilot program will last for another six months. If things continue to go well like they have been so far, the technology will expand to other parts of the country, Klein said.

Surveys indicate the increasing use of telemedicine in daily operations. It will undoubtedly become main-stream as reimbursement standards address the cost of this functionality. Even with the expected increase in capital investment the savings will more than offset the  expense and a documented ROI.

 

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