Two-Way Cameras Let Physicians Consult on Rural Trauma Cases
A two-year, $600,000 pilot program is allowing medical specialists in Burlington, Vt., to consult on trauma cases with four small, rural hospitals in Vermont and northern New York using two-way video conferencing, the Washington Times reports. The project puts computer setups in Fletcher Allen Health Care, a hospital in Burlington, as well as in the homes of three trauma surgeons, allowing "absolute, around-the-clock coverage." Dr. Michael Ricci, who helped design the system, said it "could play an important role in rural areas where critically injured patients are first taken to smaller hospitals that are not well equipped to deal with serious injuries." Using controls on their computers, the Burlington doctors can operate a camera in the emergency rooms of the remote hospitals to examine the patient and the staff's response to the case. So far, the system has been credited with saving two lives, and the rural physicians said that the consultations have "improved patient care" in 85% to 95% of their cases. The project, which is partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Opportunities Program, hopes to add a neurosurgeon to its list of consultants (Ring, Washington Times, 4/1).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.