Telemedicine: ‘Global Game Changer’

July 23, 2012
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If a blog post is any indication, lawakers at both the federal and state level are beginning to understand the importance of telemedicine and how it can reform healthcare.

If a blog post is any indication, lawakers at both the federal and state level are beginning to understand the importance of telemedicine and how it can reform healthcare.

U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Louisiana State Senator Sharon Weston-Broome (D) posted their article on The Hill, titled “Why telemedicine must become a healthcare priority in America.”  They point to the healthcare disparities in America, the fact that 38% of African-American women with coronary heart disease die before age 75, while a comparable age group among white women with that health issue is less than 20%.  And the stats are worse for Black males compared to white males.

Johnson and Weston-Broome point out that much of these health disparities is caused by a lack of access to care.  To close these gaps, they say “policymakers must continue to work diligently to remove any legislative or regulatory barriers that impede progress.”  They say telemedicine is becoming “an incredibly effective solution” for providing healthcare to communities where broadband Internet is available.  It is reducing healthcare costs, they add, where it is being used.

More importantly to their example of cardiology, telemedicine can provide a means to monitor patients’ vital signs remotely.  They don’t mention it, but I will.  It also is preventing unnecessary and expensive helicopter flights for patients who present with chest pains at smaller acute care, critical access hospitals.  Rather than fly everyone to a larger hospital, a telemedicine consult can determine who needs a higher level of care.  Using one GlobalMed mobile telemedicine station for multiple specialties, the Copper Queen Community Hospital in Bisbee, Arizona,  can get a cardiology consult with a Tucson cardiologist who can determine if the patient can be treated at the Copper Queen and stay in his community.  Jim Dixon, CEO of the Copper Queen, says this saves about $20,000 per patient in emergency helicopter transport and hospital evaluation costs.

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Johnson and Weston-Broome say in their post that telemedicine is a “global game changer,” and we agree.  That’s why many developing countries are looking toward GlobalMed to provide them with healthcare delivery systems utilizing telemedicine technologies.