Monday, July 7, 2008

Telemedicine: Computer Networked Service Delivery Assists in Rural Areas

I shared a post few months ago on telepractice and how rising fuel costs were having an impact on service delivery to learners with disabilities in outlying communities. I suggested an answer might be found in using a computer network and the Internet to do "Teleservice" for speech pathology and other service deliveries. In assistive technology, many consult activities could be done via this medium. I came across an article to share with you that supports this model through telemedicine, the spreading practice of using a computer network to conduct long- distance exams and transfer medical information.
The article is: "Use of Telemedicine Expanding in Ohio's Rural Areas, Appalachia".
In the article, they are applying advanced medical applications to an Internet network to use a stethescope, do ultrasound viewing, etc. One example is described below:
"Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron is using telemedicine to connect special-needs children at two schools in rural areas of Ashland and Wayne counties to their family doctors if the children get sick at school. The system features video conferencing, electronic stethoscopes and the capability to transmit photos of symptoms."
Although the service lacks personalization and human interaction, it demonstrates that there is an alternative method to delivering support. Folks I have visited with or articles I have read, recommend personal visits for initial services and evaluations from time to time, with networked consultation in-between to save on expense.
It will be interesting to see where this heads - even as fuel prices continue to climb over the next few months. What do you think of using these types of services where practical, in the delivery of assistive technology? Let us hear from you pros or cons...

All the best to you!

No comments: