Another twist

I’ve been talking about ways of coping with health care costs. Here’s another twist: telemedicine.

…a growing number of people monitoring their vital signs through
"telemedicine," which allows health care providers to perform checkups
by video.

The technology can be as basic as the kiosks Wilson
uses, which transmit blood pressure and weight readings to a remote
facility monitored by a nurse. On more sophisticated devices, live
doctors appear on a screen to listen to everything from a patient’s
heartbeats to lung waves. Some machines let patients aim a camera at
injuries so doctors can instruct them how to properly dress a wound.

The number of companies manufacturing home telecare devices in the
last three years has tripled to 15 and the Veterans Administration
plans to double the number of patients it puts on home telecare to
20,000 over the next year, said Jonathan Linkous, executive director of
the American Telemedicine Association.

About 3,500 hospitals, clinics, schools and other facilities use telemedicine today, up from 2,000 six years ago, he said.

Health care providers can catch warning signs early and take action to
prevent a stroke or heart attack, said Johanna Lupoli, an Eddy VNA
nurse who specializes in delivering telemedicine.

"It saves time, money, can be done instantaneously," Silver said. "This
is going to become as common as a cell phone in our industry."

I believe it. By the time I’m tottering around on a cane, I fully expect to be wired up like a Christmas tree.

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  1. Telemedicine is moving along nicely, although like all things in health care, slowly. It is a huge benfit to remote locations where although the primary care may be excellent, there just is not the demand to support specialty care. The University of Kansas Medical Center has a great program that brings specialists up close and personal to patients five hours away, eliminating the burden of transportation, lodging, time off from work, etc. It is a model that can be scaled to all underserved areas, even when the specialist is not hundreds of miles away, but other barriers has as great an impact.