Telemedicine and Improving Rural Healthcare

Rural Americans face different challenges in accessing quality healthcare than their urban counterparts. Spatial disparities pose one of the biggest challenges, as those living in rural areas often have much less direct access to healthcare facilities and professionals. A promising solution to this challenge comes in the form of telemedicine and the corresponding technological infrastructure.

The American Telemedicine Association formally defines telemedicine as the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status. They continue, telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.

As telemedicine continues to gain traction, the number of telemedical tools available is growing and providing a way for situation specific tailoring of quality healthcare provision. This customized care is exactly what rural areas need, as they constitute a very different demographic than more urban communities. Telemedicine and the associated technology helps to increase the quality of healthcare delivered in rural areas while also decreasing the time necessary to deliver the care.

Examples of how telemedicine can improve the quality of rural healthcare include:

  • Connecting health professionals with patients, regardless of their location With technology services like Skype, GoToMeeting, and other similar applications, health professionals can expand their range of service provision. This is especially helpful for patients needing the advisement and care of specialized service providers which are often physically located even further than general practitioners.
  • The potential for remote monitoring of in-home clinical observations Patients could be given hospital quality monitoring devices in their homes. These devices would digitally send updates of their vitals to their physicians, giving the physicians direct access to their patient’s clinical status at any time. This also decreases the need for patients to travel into health facilities for routine check-ups.
  • Connecting physicians with the latest medical information and best practices Telemedical technology can also be utilized by physicians practicing in rural areas. If rural physicians cannot directly attend medical conferences and educational seminars, they could connect to these information resources via telemedical technology helping them to better stay current and up to date on new medical information and best practices.

 

About the Author:

Alexis Brana is a Graduate Student studying Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia

Referenced Sources:

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/5-ways-telemedicine-can-boost-care-rural-communities

http://www.americantelemed.org/about-telemedicine/what-is-telemedicine#.VwVK6PkrI2w

 

HPC Solutions Managed Services

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Government agencies now more than ever need to optimize their resources, improve efficiencies and do more with less. Outsourcing the management of a videoconferencing environment offers globally dispersed agencies increased support and coverage, additional technical capabilities and expertise, and improved up time.
Governing in the 21st century presents new challenges for public officials . Technology is changing the ways we interact as global citizens and how we govern. With billions now online, citizens expect to connect with governments and public sector agencies in a secure, seamless, and reliable environment. Public service employees need to collaborate across multiple agencies and geographies in real time.
Government officials around the world are exploring new ways of doing things in order to cope with the challenges of globalization, economic uncertainty, emerging technologies, and a more connected citizen base. The solutions to these challenges have two factors in common-connecting people and maximizing resources in radically new ways.

Key Benefits of Managed Services
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HPC Solutions Managed Services offers a suite of solutions to offer true, 24 x 7 support for videoconferencing endpoints and infrastructure. Our staff provides all the proactive support you need and responds to alerts, tickets, and remote service requests.

Our complete turnkey Managed Services for network equipment and applications is available on the customer premises, or cloud based. Performing to SLA’s, our technical video team provides state of the art Help Desk support, multipoint bridging services, scheduling, maintenance and repair. Our highly trained and certified professional video operators, and engineers can augment internal video teams or a complete outsource solution is available.

Our managed services include all of the components in your videoconferencing and AV infrastructure:

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Can you hear me now?

Can You Hear Me Now?

That’s what it’s ultimately all about, right? People need to communicate. Whether it’s personal emotions, logistics and coordination, transactional, or whatever else – we need the ability to convey our thoughts to other people – and do so in real-time. When we’re all in the same room together its usually not that difficult. You speak, the other people hear, body language, expressions and demonstrations are added, and conveying moderately complex ideas is usually successful. When we’re not in the same room though…well therein lies the challenge.

Up until recently, real-time communication with people not in the room with us usually involved a major change in behavior. We would have to go somewhere – to a phone booth, to a videoconference or telepresence room, even just to our home telephone – something that involved us moving to the place where the tools were in order to use them, then go back to what we were doing.

The first significant change to that experience came with the mobile phone. Suddenly we could be contacted anywhere we happened to be. The telephone booth’s long lines at airports, conference centers and sporting venues disappeared – followed shortly thereafter by most of the telephone booths themselves. The convenience of picking up a device replaced the chore of going somewhere specific in order to access the needed tool.

In today’s world (for the most part) we still need to “make a call” by pressing buttons on a device in order to initiate this communication. However, that is changing too. With artificial intelligence engines (think the iPhone’s Siri as a rudimentary example) we can simply start speaking our commands and then just begin conversation to communicate with others. Some people do this today, speaking to their Google Glass to get information, or at a much simpler level, using Bluetooth headsets connected to their smart devices, initiating and/or receiving calls with just the appropriate voice commands.

In the “fantasy near future”, the superheroes from the Marvel’s Avengers movie all chat with each other in real-time to coordinate activities. The people back at the command ship (on the top in this photo) all use Plantronics Discovery 975 Bluetooth headsets – a device so revolutionary (lightweight, functional, attractive) Plantronics didn’t even call it a headset – they use the term “earpiece.” The heroes in the movie, well…up until very recently people thought that they just used magic to communicate with each other. Whether or not you bought-into the “poetic license” arguments that were used, or fell into the chorus of geeks all claiming this was a plot failure, it showed a terrific example of just being able to use voice communication from wherever you happened to be. On the ground, on a ship hundreds of miles away, flying through space – it didn’t matter, just talk in a normal voice and your colleagues heard you and could respond and coordinate. When the recent Iron Man 3 movie came out, the writers seemingly wanted to put the geek-chorus to rest and had a tiny wireless headset (that apparently has unlimited range and doesn’t need a smart device) fall out of Tony Stark’s ear at a critical moment. If my friends at Plantronics are working on such a device I’ll be sure to let you know in a future blog, but for now the best we can get from them is the awesome Voyager Legend. It is very much visible and absolutely requires pairing to a smart device, but other than that it comes close to the fantasy. When a call comes in it speaks to you and waits for you to reply (“call from Joe – answer or ignore.”)

As we approach a reality with ubiquitous voice communication there are still the elements of vocal tone and visual communications that are frequently needed to truly convey our thoughts and feelings. The renowned professor Albert Mehrabian is often cited for his studies showing that words alone make up only 7% of our communication. Tone of voice accounts for 38% and visual cues cover a whopping 55%. It’s not enough to just be able to hear people to truly communicate with them, one has to hear them clearly and see them to achieve effective communications.

The firm Polycom, (before they hired the CEO that nobody liked, and who frequently fired everyone before he was forced to resign in disgrace) really captured what this was all about in a way that no one else in the industry has been able to before or since. In this outstanding video that Polycom used to play for visitors at their EBC in Santa Clara, the concepts of true communication and connection are really made clear. One can easily understand why clarity and full bandwidth are important in voice communications, and why visual cues are essential to human interaction. In my opinion, it was a defining moment in the collaboration industry. A leading technology firm was not talking about bits and bytes and speeds and feeds. They had effectively changed the conversation into one about effective communication. Of course, just as Winston Churchill said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” No one in the collaboration industry ever followed-up on this groundbreaking approach to explaining effective communication – including Polycom, who’s new management at the time so despised anything of the past that they automatically jettisoned anything not created new just for the sake of doing so. As they now turn the page on those dark days and search for the soul of their firm, I hope that an examination of those abandoned thoughts will reveal just how valuable the concept of “Human Communication” was and is, and I also hope they will revitalize this campaign. (But maybe they should just hire actors for the video and not use executives / employees this time so they don’t have to feel embarrassed if one of them leaves the firm.)

Oddly enough, some of the people that were with Polycom at the time of that video are now with Plantronics, so maybe they are working on that invisible, super-range in-ear device – and trying to figure out how to add video too it as well. If they need more ideas they can always wait for the next Avengers movie too. These days just about every new device (real or imaginary) is proof of Clarke’s third law – Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Can you hear me now?

This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. David has over three decades of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He now works with Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at David.Danto@Dimensiondata.com or DDanto@imcca.org and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at Danto.info

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