The Telemedicine Cure for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
No parent enjoys taking a sick child to see the doctor. And in rural Argentina, ‘seeing the doctor’ can involve a journey of many hundreds of kilometers to get to the prestigious Prof. Dr. Juan P. Garrahan Pediatric Hospital in Buenos Aires. But this is a journey which is often unnecessary.
The reason, I learned when I recently interviewed Dr. Luis Carniglia, who is in charge of Garrahan’s Reference and Counter-reference Program, is that many parents whisk their kids off to the Buenos Aires hospital simply because they do not trust the medics in their local healthcare center. The Garrahan is one of the top pediatric hospitals in the region—and as a parent myself I know what it is like to want the very best for your children.
But a high proportion of cases the Garrahan’s doctors get to see could easily be treated at a local hospital, says Dr. Carniglia, if only parents could somehow be convinced that the medical attention there is just as good as it is in the capital. Mindful of this, Dr. Carniglia is heading a project to extend the Garrahan’s 12-year-old remote patient consultation service with Cisco TelePresence and Unified Communications, so Buenos Aires-based doctors can give real-time support to medics doing consultations in regional centers.
In practice, this means parents can now have the reassurance of seeing a Garrahan specialist—over TelePresence or via Unified Communications—alongside their local pediatric doctor.
This reinforces parents’ confidence in regional healthcare staff and removes the need for costly and time-consuming travel.
You can also see the system in action in this video (in Spanish, with English subtitles) featuring Dr. Carniglia, members of the Cisco team working on the telemedicine project, and Telefónica, the service provider involved.
Regular readers will be aware of how technology is helping to solve an ever-increasing range of challenges in healthcare. To the best of my knowledge, though, this is the first case of IT curing fear, uncertainty and doubt.
And bearing in mind the likely impact of long, drawn-out journeys on a sick child—not to mention the knock-on impact on things like schooling—allaying parental fears in this way can only be a good thing. What do you think?