By Michael Wilson – Telemedicine or telemedicine is not a new idea, what is new is the technology behind it and the rapidity of change in that technology. Over a 100 years ago, a “wired-wireless” electronic stethoscope was used to transmit information to medical specialists who were on shore. Norfolk State Hospital created an interactive video link with the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute in 1964. In 1967, Massachusetts General Hospital and Logan Airport in Boston linked up to deliver medical care remotely. Australian doctors reported in 1989, they had created a very successful link between an aerial ambulance team with their base hospital, a teaching hospital, and regional hospitals. The proper implementation of telemedicine would be of benefit to multiple segments of rural society.
Telemedicine and the Elderly
Many older patients will often travel outside their local area for their health care needs. This travel will often take the persons to larger municipalities and there are cases where the travel is so the patients can enjoy amenities not found in their local area. Telemedicine could bring specialists into the home of the patient or into the local primary care physician’s office. If the person’s primary care physician has a way to stay abreast of a person’s condition that will give the person and their family some peace of mind. It strengthens the person’s social support system through a combination of software and human connections. It reduces travel expenses and stress on the individual and serves as a unique buffer to provide health care services in remote locations. While maintaining the health care system for our elderly is a major concern, for rural communities another group that would benefit from this service are children and their families.
Telemedicine use in Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics argues that increasing the use of telemedicine would provide multiple benefits. Patient access to care is one of the most significant benefits. Consultations, discussions of a particular case, transmission of medical data, all will serve to increase a pediatrician’s ability to provide extended care to local families. The quality of care might also be improved. If a physician has access to the latest technology and medical reference materials, they will be able to again offer their patients more complete care. An additional potential benefit might come in reduced overall costs to the patient. If a patient does not have to travel great distances, their overall cost of care should be reduced. These types of results would provide rural health care operations a much needed financial boosts and also provide their service much needed health care access. While it is true that telemedicine can provide some relief; however, it is necessary to understand that any new technology often meets some form of resistance.
Next Part III – Resistance