Integrating new technologies has a way of forcing organizations to rethink their daily operations. However, embracing technology is always just the first step. Implementation does not truly thrive until the organization takes the initiative to push the envelope of its application to find innovative new uses – the type of uses that can lead to better solutions, solve known issues or even create new revenue streams.
This is especially true within healthcare where costs continue to escalate – and providers are scrambling for most cost effective ways to meet patient needs. Fortunately, video conferencing has surfaced as a potential innovation growth opportunity. And, as its use matures, applications are extending well beyond providing general family care to those within remote areas.
Seeing into the Future
An award winning project underway at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Medical Group in conjunction with SADA Systems is yielding significant results. Under the direction of Thomas C. Lee, M.D., director of The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the project focuses on delivering remote training for eye surgeons in Armenia in partnership with the Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP).
According to an article on Yahoo! Finance, the goal is to help reduce rates of infant blindness, which occurs three times as often in Armenia as in the United States. “Using Skype and Polycom videoconferencing endpoints, Dr. Lee can view the actual surgery in real time and communicate face to face with the surgical team. With AECP, Dr. Lee thus far has remotely trained two surgeons and observed four surgeries in Armenia live from his office in California. The retina scan images and related diagnoses hosted by OneDrive for Business make it possible for doctors to collaborate and reference past surgeries as needed.”
The University of California Riverside is also actively exploring the role video conferencing can play in effectively treating MS patients. Leveraging the talents of a small team – UCR professor and MS expert Elizabeth Morrison-Banks, MD, clinical assistant professor Kristyn Pellechia and a nurse practitioner, the goal is to determine effectiveness when compared to in-person visits.
During the pilot, the nurse practitioner will go directly to the patient’s home and remotely connect with Morrison-Banks, who will perform a neurological assessment. The assessment will involve an intake visit, a review of the patient’s history, discussion of lab results and neuro-imaging and treatment plans.
While others have leveraged telehealth technology for neurological conditions, such as those using the technologies to improve stroke or concussion treatment, focusing on MS takes telehealth to a new level.
According to a Healthcare IT News article by Heather Mack, the goal is to give neurologists insights into how to blend MS therapies with available video conferencing technologies. “It’s a difficult condition, especially for places that have general neurology services but don’t have MS-specific centers,” said Morrison-Banks. “And bringing in services and technologies in their offices poses challenges because they don’t always have the economies of scale they would if they were treating just one condition.”
It takes courage and initiative to step beyond established norms. And, even if a project doesn’t necessarily produce the anticipated results, seeking innovative uses always opens the door for further exploration – and more lives saved.