Monday, March 30, 2009

Hawaii becomes a model for telemedicine, an increasingly popular strategy for rural health care

Telemedicine proponents gathered recently in Hawaii to discuss the progress within the field. Helen Altonn reports for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that the practice, which connects doctors and health specialists online with patients in other locations, is a growing trend that is particularly advantageous for rural areas and isolated patients.

"In essence it affords the ability to electronically transport the physician to the patient instead of the patient to the physician," Dr. Jay H. Sanders, who has been called the "father of telemedicine," told Altonn. "It's really a life-or-death situation in many areas."

The first of its kind in Hawaii, the event featured speakers from the field, including Sanders, who is president and chief executive officer of the Global Telemedicine Group. Altonn reports that Sanders is credited with developing the first statewide telemedicine system in the United States, the first correctional telemedicine program and the first "tele-homecare" technology, called "The Electronic House Call."

The advantages to telemedicine services include connections between academic centers and rural hospitals where trauma surgeons can be scarce. Additionally, Sanders said specialists are able to effectively examine patients by a CAT scan or MRI and refer that information to the attending doctor on call.

Obstacles faced by the telemedicine practice include old Medicaid coverage rules and issues with licensure. Still, Sanders looks to Hawaii's reimbursement plan as a model and is certain that the cost savings associated with telemedicine make it a priority, especially with the new administration. "Very shortly you will be able to see me on the cell phone. It will be major technology for telemedicine." Read more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great information! Telemedicine truly extends the boundaries of healthcare. Of interest might be iCons in Medicine, a non-profit that allows Physicians to give and receive specialty consultations. Check it out at