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Telemedicine
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 5)  

The second telemedicine model is the store-and-forward concept. This involves collecting medical data and then transmitting it to the appropriate physician or specialist for assessment. The two people involved do not have to be present at the same time, and the data can be in the form of an email, text dictation, video, and especially the electronic medical record (EMR), which has become a standard in hospitals and doctorsí offices nationwide.

Even teleradiology has seen a boom. The ability to send X-rays from one location to another involves use of an image sending station, transmission network and receiving/image review station. The Internet has made the doctor/patient relationship very different than the house calls of olden days.

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This new movement toward telemedicine has not been without extensive research into its capabilities, rewards and risks.

The Center for Information Technology Leadership (CITL) produced a detailed report reviewing the various levels of telehealth technologies, and their benefits on the economy. The report names six areas, three pre-telehealth and one advanced, including the benefits this technology is offering the health community.

Even though the cost to implement telemedicine nationwide would be astronomical, this report shows us that the cost would be covered by the savings, just in a reduction from transfers of patients via ambulance. "Hybrid (real-time and store-and-forward) technologies would avoid 850,000 transports with a cost savings of $537 million a year," it states. Then, add in the transports within correctional facility settings, nursing homes, etc. and the money available for implementing new technologies increases fast.

Newt Gingrich, Ph.D., along with Doctors Richard Boxer and Bryon Brooks, released a report this year, entitled "Telephone Medical Consults Answer the Call for Accessible, Affordable and Convenient Healthcare." The paper states that more than 1.5 million Americans have access to telemedicine options today, as many employers, health plans and other benefit agencies are recognizing the ability to increase quality care and decrease expenses.

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