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As Hospitals Accommodate Technological Expansion, Could Telepresence Do More?

January 19, 2012 at 10:22 am PST

As hospitals and health systems continuously adapt to the changing healthcare needs and practices of the 21st century, technology takes on an ever-expanding role. According to the Hospital Providers on the Move report, completed by SK&A healthcare marketing company, audio visual and media systems accounted for one of the fastest expanding employment areas between March 2010 and March 2011 at healthcare establishments across the country.

We’ve seen how audio and visual media, especially telepresence, have helped patients access difficult-to-reach doctors for illnesses ranging from Parkinson’s disease to psychiatric disorders. Perhaps the hiring increase for Directors of Audio Visual/Media Services indicates that even more hospitals have found technology like telepresence can enhance patient care. Read More »

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Telehealth, Including Telesurgery, Expected to Rapidly Expand

January 17, 2012 at 7:29 am PST

We’ve seen some great examples of how telehealth services help reach patients living in rural areas that lack easy access to medical care. With telepresence technology, these patients can have face-to-face visits with their doctors as frequently as needed, without having to leave home or face long commutes to the hospital.

Knowing how much the people using these telehealth services rely on their high-quality, convenient patient care, it is great to read that market researchers expect the global telemedicine market to expand by 19 percent by 2014. According to a forecast by market analysts at Technavio, United States federal grants supporting telehealth contribute significantly to the forecasted industry growth. An increase in strategic partnerships in telemedicine also helps boost telehealth’s prominence.

As telemedicine continues to expand throughout the United States, Europe and developing nations also continue to offer more opportunities for remote care, according to the market report. It’s exciting to think of the international collaboration possibilities for telehealth as it spreads worldwide. Imagine a telepresence connection between an expert in France, a patient in rural New York, and the patient’s doctor in New York City. The top minds in different specialties could communicate effortlessly, sharing cutting-edge findings and offering the best care available.

We’re already seeing truly innovative international telepresence collaboration in telesurgery, a field the Technavio report predicted would continue to expand. In September, a Kenyan patient underwent the African nation’s first telesurgery procedure. Specialists in India guided the operation via telepresence.

Would you let robots perform your surgery if you knew the best hands in the field led the procedure in real-time through telepresence? It sounds impossible, but with telepresence widely available, it could be the wave of the future!

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USDA Grants Help Rural Communities Connect

January 12, 2012 at 7:37 am PST

A recent study from the U.K. Department of Health finds that using remote monitoring technology to keep tabs on patients’ blood sugar and cardiopulmonary disease can reduce the risk of patient mortality by up to 45 percent. With statistics like this, hospitals and medical clinics can’t afford not to embrace telehealth technologies. Not to mention, telehealth is quickly becoming a competitive differentiator in some markets around the U.S. According to Mark Probst, CIO for Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, “I don’t see how the hospital CEO can ignore telemedicine.”

While tech-savvy patients in urban areas will likely begin to demand more user-friendly access to healthcare, therefore driving the adoption of telehealth in metropolitan-area hospitals, the technology is more than just a convenience for residents in rural areas; it can be the difference between life and death. Read More »

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West Palm Beach Integrates Digital Technology, With Room for Telepresence

December 9, 2011 at 8:57 am PST

The city of West Palm Beach, Florida, is on to something.

The popular tourist destination, and home to 100,000 residents, has embarked upon its own digital revolution of sorts. In an effort to develop business, bring digital communication to the underserved, and make its citizens feel more connected to the local government, West Palm Beach has pulled out nearly all the technological stops.

To bridge the digital divide between wealthy and impoverished populations, the city has installed free Wi-Fi in many public places, including its famous waterfront and the public library. Two Youth Empowerment Centers now include audio/visual recording labs to encourage teens’ multimedia skills and interests. Additionally, in terms of constituent outreach, a planned “Tele-Town Hall” will enable residents to connect with city officials via phone, local television, and social media.

So what more could West Palm Beach do to optimize its technological prowess? Add more telepresence… Read More »

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Scotland and California Governments Embrace Healthcare Technologies

November 3, 2011 at 7:40 am PST

Government support for healthcare (telehealth or telemedicine) technologies continues to gain momentum across the globe. The latest examples in Scotland and California emphasize improved medical care and reduced costs from adoption of technologies such as telepresence, home monitoring and Internet services.

A recent Guardian article highlights a report from the Scottish auditor which urges NHS to consider telehealth when developing or redesigning services. The report sets out a series of questions for NHS boards to ask around improved access, increased capacity, cost avoidance and health benefits. They include: Are any patients unable to access the current service because of geography? Do clinical staff have to do more than a four hour round trip to deliver the current service? Could using telehealth potentially reduce hospital admissions? Hopefully NHS takes this recommendation seriously and starts to make some serious headway on the telehealth front. Read More »

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