Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Summit Explores the Future of Telemedicine; the Practice Would Allow Doctors to Treat and Consult with More Patients

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Summit Explores the Future of Telemedicine; the Practice Would Allow Doctors to Treat and Consult with More Patients

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

The Federal Communication Commission brought its Connect2HealthFCC task force to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville on Wednesday for a Broadband Health Summit.

The message delivered by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and a number of panelists is that the use of wireless technology will help make health care more accessible and more affordable.

For some people the basic problem is getting access to primary care, either because of distance, transportation problems or lack of insurance. For others, the problem is getting access to specialists, who tend to cluster in large cities and around major hospitals.

Telemedicine - the delivery of health care using telecommunications technologies such as video-conferencing - is something the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville has been doing since the 1990s, said Sarvam P. TerKonda, the clinic's medical director for connected care in Florida.

"In the future we're going to be seeing more patients through telemedicine than face-to-face," he predicted.

One example of Mayo's use of telemedicine was demonstrated by panelist Kevin M. Barrett, medical director of Mayo's stroke telemedicine program in Florida, which helps emergency physicians at five hospitals in Florida and Georgia to assess patients who may be undergoing a stroke.

Using wireless technology, Barrett can examine patients to determine if they are suffering ischemic strokes. Those strokes are caused by blood clots that can be dissolved using a tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) if it is administered in a timely fashion.

Telemedicine can also play an important role in getting health care to people who have a difficult time accessing it, Clyburn said. The elderly and the disabled are especially vulnerable, Clyburn noted, which will be a particular issue in Florida where soon one in four residents will be over 65. …

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