Breaking Down the Geographical Barriers of Health Services

KerriKnippenbergBy Kerri Knippenberg, Business Development Analyst, DICOM Grid
Twitter: @dicomgrid

NATO leaders are teaming up with a telemedicine hub, Avera Health, to improve clinical care during natural and manmade disasters around the world. In order to provide clinical care at a distance, NATO and Avera Health realize that telemedicine must be at the forefront of their initiative. NATO is working with Avera because of the health system’s experience with remote health care services. Avera has a 24-hour hub that provides medical services to 200 locations in the West and Midwest. This project will encompass NATO’s research combined with Avera Health’s experience in telemedicine.

According to The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment “advanced telecommunication and information technologies have a role to play in transforming the health care system. Evidence-based models facilitated by these technologies can improve access to and quality of health care across the geographic and economic spectrum.” It is estimated that a billion people have been affected by natural disasters or crises and there has been 666,000 deaths. However, if the appropriate and accurate information could be made available the morality rates could be greatly reduced.

This NATO project aims to improve communication by incorporating telemedicine into the disaster aid teams. Embracing this technology will reduce the number of volunteers that need to be physically brought into the disaster area. According to Romanian interior ministry official, Dr. Raed Arafat, who is the Director of this NATO project, with telemedicine “you still send people, but instead of needing to send 30 people maybe you send 12.” Telemedicine will also reduce the amount of time to help those in need. Telemedicine will allow volunteers to communicate with experienced physicians around the globe in a timely manner. Project officials also hope that telemedicine will reduce the amount of resources needed while volunteers are stationed.

The project is currently being tested in multiple countries. The team is hosting several multinational drills before it will be launched during an actual emergency. The next drill will take place in Ukraine later this month. Officials hope by 2017 it will be able to deliver care in real life during a disaster.

In 2019, the telemedicine market is expected to more than double. It is important to recognize the advancements that are taking place around us each and everyday. This exciting innovation can have an enormous impact on saving the lives around the globe.

This article was originally published on DICOM Grid and is republished here with permission.