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Telepresence is Just What the Doctors Ordered … for Themselves

June 10, 2011
at 12:32 pm PST

Just about everyone I know has a list of 1,000 things (give or take) they would rather do than spend an evening in a hospital. Physicians may not mind the environment quite as much (occupational hazard) but it turns out they have their complaints too.

In an informal study conducted by Brentwood, Tennessee’s Aegis Health Group, local doctors grumbled about conditions ranging from “bad parking” to a lack of specialists, the need for online education, and the need for a forum in which to share ideas with their colleagues.

While I don’t have words of wisdom about the parking, telepresence can help remedy many of the other gripes. First, telepresence can instantaneously bring a specialist to a patient, even if the doctor lives across the country or around the world. HD screens can allow the physician a crystal clear view of the patient and provide the patient with real-time access to the remote doctor. Likewise, telepresence applications facilitate all sorts of distance learning—not just for doctors, though certainly inclusive of them. And what better way to create a discussion forum, especially with colleagues working at other hospitals, than through the face-to-face connection telepresence provides?

It doesn’t stop there. Surveyed doctors expressed frustration at the periodic inaccessibility of radiologists and the unfulfilled need for same-day imaging. With telepresence, a doctor who can’t leave his or her office or who works in another location can view an x-ray image with unprecedented clarity. This convenience can shorten wait time and improve the efficiency of patient care.

And it doesn’t end with the doctors, either. Ultimately, installing telepresence equipment can help hospitals cut expenses by streamlining administrative practices. For instance, a large chain of hospitals can reduce organizational redundancies by relying on telepresence for improved communication across departments and among facility leaders.

Let’s face it: the list of benefits of telepresence in hospitals doesn’t have a finale in sight. Telepresence is an indispensable tool for improving patient care, raising physician satisfaction, and promoting fiscal best practices.

Interested in hearing first-hand how one healthcare institution is using telepresence? Join us for a live webcast on June 23 – Innovative Ways Telepresence is Transforming the Healthcare Industry – to hear Michael Young, Director of Telemedicine at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, discuss how Cisco TelePresence is helping to transform the treatment of cancer patients.

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