06 June 2013

Telemedicine Is Gaining Support - Part 2

Part 2 of 2 parts

Some important history needs to be part of this blog. “The University of Kansas Center for Telemedicine & Telehealth is a recognized world leader in telehealth services and research.” I would not have included this if I did not believe it. I have a distant relative that has been a recipient of this service and he says it was needed and he was thankful it was available when he needed it.

“Beginning in 1991 with a single connection to a community in western Kansas, the Kansas telehealth network now has accessed more than 100 sites throughout the state, has conducted many thousands of clinical consultations for the people of Kansas and has hosted hundreds of educational events for health professionals, teachers, students and the public.”

This is not the total of universities, but none has had the success that U of K has had or the range of population across the state. Other universities are modeling after the University of Kansas and are still developing especially when not blocked by state medical boards.

The benefits of telemedicine in states that are largely rural are more evident than in states that have some large population areas. Rural physicians and clinics can,
  • Receive education from the specialist/provider
  • Better health outcome for their patients
  • Enhanced community confidence in local healthcare
  • Attend continuing medical education courses from their clinic

Patients benefit,
  • Loved ones remain in their community with family support
  • Cost savings from not having to travel extensively
  • Immediate urgent care
  • Confidentiality of specialty examination or visit (Because the patient visits the general practice doctor, he can be seen for any specialty care without anyone else knowing)
  • Patient education courses (nutrition, oncology, etc.)
  • Properly stabilize patient prior to transport
  • Early Diagnosis prior to escalated medical episode

Rural Patient's Community benefits because,
  • Dollars follow the patient
      • Patients that routinely travel to visit doctors in large urban areas tend to purchase their goods and services from those cities,
      • Telemedicine keeps those dollars local.

Telemedicine Providers (hub sites) benefit by,
  • Expand patient outreach
  • Major surgical procedures resulting from the initial telemedicine consultation
  • Reduction in ER visits
  • Promotion of Hospital
  • Charge tuition for clinician education courses (CME, CNE, etc.)
  • How can we give any hospital or clinic immediate access to a vast amount of medical experts, healthcare education/information, and support from other physicians.

These benefits can become powerful benefits for telemedicine in states like Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, and other states. Physicians with access to telemedicine will be more likely to remain in these largely rural states. Residents will be happier not needing to travel for hours to be treated and will welcome and utilize nearby physicians.

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