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By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 5 of 5)  

In addition to a computer, monitor on a moveable arm and video-conferencing system, the equipment present at the nursing home site includes an electronic stethoscope, otoscope, dermascope, dentalscope and EKG. These are located on a rollabout, allowing it to be taken to a residentís bedside if necessary. Another important benefit is the ability of the patientís family to be involved, even from a distance, through the online video conference.

Tomorrowís Telemedicine

The ATSP says "The future of telehealth depends less on technology than on politics." The technology is readily available for telemedicine to have a major impact on the countryís health care industry. Now, government programs, telecommunications law and insurance reimbursements, all funding for the industryís professionals, are sitting on the hill of major decisions.

"The consumer is a key player in the future of telehealth," says the organization. "If people understand what telemedicine is, see it as having value, and insist that they have access to it, governments, employers, and insurance companies will make it feasible."

IBM projects that in five years from now, a computer-generated, three-dimensional image of a patientís body will be available for the physician to click on a body part and see lab results and other records.

In another future role of telemedicine, a new software will allow a patientís blood glucose levels or blood pressure, among other readings, to be transmitted to their personal cell phone. The phone acts as a "hub, collecting readings, then transmitting the information in real time to a central server," says an article on

The patientís physician has thresholds set, and the personís phone may give an alert if the readings are high or low. Teenagers may want a text message sent to them while older people a phone call. This technology is an ideal way for monitoring those with chronic conditions who lead active lifestyles.

Whether monitoring vitals at home, on the person themselves, or taking part in real-time video examinations or even surgeries from a distance, the future of telemedicine is a wide, expanding horizon. In the coming years, this technology will impact all of us in some way or another, as caregivers and the people we care for.


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