TELEMEDICINE: FL County Plans to Link Schools, Doctors
The Palm Beach County School District is considering an ambitious program to bring telemedicine to all of its 135 schools, allowing school nurses to tap into broader medical resources. The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports that county Health Care District CEO Cecil Bennett outlined his plan to install cameras and computer equipment in school clinics to facilitate "live video consultations with nurse practitioners, physicians and psychiatrists." Bennett pegs the cost at $2 million a year, far less than the projected cost of providing specialists in every school. Bennett initially urged the district to add a mental health specialist to each school after successfully meeting his goal of landing a nurse in every public school. The telemedicine proposal "received a warm reception" from several district board members, who expressed interest in launching a pilot program. Although Palm Beach County would not be the first school system to implement the program -- some small, rural school systems already use telemedicine -- it would top the charts as "the largest school telemedicine system in the country." Dr. Jay Sanders, president of the Global Telemedicine Group, urged the district board members Wednesday to consider the program. He said, "What amazes me, is that the largest service industry in America has still not figured out that it is often more efficient to bring the health care practitioner to the patient instead of the patient going to the health care practitioner" (Singer, 2/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.