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Cutting edge medical care — let's go to the video

September 3, 2009
at 11:57 am PST

A recent article in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery reports that the use of telerehabilitation for patients with spinal cord injuries resulted in a group of patients that reported higher satisfaction with their care. Most spinal cord injury patients must be in special units in hospital for long periods of time, which can lead to isolation from family and friends.

After release, they must spend a great deal of time in rehabilitation. The report showed that using video conferencing technology allowed patients to conduct rehabilitation from home and is emerging as a viable way to improve quality of care after a patient is discharged. In addition to higher satisfaction, patients at the three sites involved in the telerehabilitation study showed no difference in the types or number of complications or hospital readmissions from patients in traditional rehabilitation.

Video conferencing has proven highly effective in other telerehabilitation applications as well as teletherapy, telemental health and even clinical applications. For example, the treatment of stroke patients via video is fast emerging as standard practice across the industry. For stroke victims, time is critical — especially for those who qualify for treatment with the clot-busting drug known as tPA, which must be administered within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms.

Unfortunately, in the United States, the availability of critical care neurologists falls well below the need of hospitals. That’s where video conferencing technology comes in: Specialists on Call (SOC), founded in 2005, has a core team of experienced neurologists — all of them former or current University neurologists — that can treat patients in any of the hospitals using its service, regardless of location.

By utilizing video conferencing, SOC neurologists can be at a patient’s bedside within 15 minutes and can begin administering treatment. Without video, the hospital has to call a physician to come in, which may not happen in time, and that’s if they even have a local specialist taking emergency calls.

Video conferencing is becoming more and more important as a way to maximize and more broadly distribute medical care. It saves money, it’s green and it improves the quality of life for patients.

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