New applications of telemedicine dubbed “tele-home-care” also may make an incalculable difference in the lives of homebound patients, families with special-needs children, prison inmates, homeless persons, and others living in special circumstances. A physician at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center envisions a future in which telemedical services are available to “place-bound” patients everywhere. “In a home-care situation,” he says, “a patient with congestive heart failure or emphysema can follow up with a physician or nurse to refine his or her care plan, keeping that patient out of the costly revolving door of frequent hospital readmission.”

E-Health Winner Sets the Pace

The Pacific E-Health Innovation Center at Tripler Army Medical Center is a model for telemedicine providers across the nation, not just those within the Federal or military sectors.  In fact, Vice President Gore’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) recently designated the Center as its choice for the winner of the e-Gov 2000 Pioneer Award.  NPR praised the Center for its Pacific Medical Network (PACMEDNET) Project and its development of “Best Practices” solutions to the challenge of health services delivery. 

The Center’s project list is ambitious and includes a number of novel initiatives as well as standard fare -- a Global Forensic Telemedicine (GiFT) effort, for instance, that focuses on the identification and assessment of child abuse victims by specialists in the field.  




The Future

It’s clear that telemedicine is an idea whose time has come. What is less clear is how potential users can eliminate the remaining barriers to its use:

Payment issues;
Privacy issues related to sending information over possibly unsecured lines;
Interstate licensing of doctors;
Uneven development and acquisition of technology; the varying costs imposed by telecommunications carriers; and
Increasing need for the broadband technology medical systems needed to transport detailed images at rapid speed. 

In September 1999, telemedicine advocates presented many of these issues and their recommendations at a Congressional Hearing on Telemedicine Technologies. Backed by the Clinton/Gore administration’s electronic government services initiatives, it’s clear that more Federal help is on the way.

For more information visit the Pacific E-Health Innovation Center

More information about Telemedicine.


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