, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 1128-1134
Date: 27 Apr 2006

Telemedicine and Electronic Health Information for Clinical Continuity in a Mobile Surgery Program

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Abstract

Introduction

An intermittent surgical services program in rural Ecuador was able to benefit from close collaboration between surgeons and primary care physicians through the use of telemedicine technologies.

Methods

Inexpensive telemedicine workstations capable of patient documentation, imaging, and video-conferencing at extremely low bandwidth were established in collaborative primary care sites in rural Ecuador. Patients were screened for intermittent surgical services by primary caregivers according to the surgeons’ guidelines. Real-time and store-and-forward telemedicine allowed appropriate collaborative, informed decision-making. Surgery was performed, and postoperative care was similarly handled by on-site, familiar primary caregivers.

Results

To date, this system has been used in more than 124 patient encounters (74 preoperative and 50 postoperative visits). The system allowed advance screening of patients on the part of the surgeons, leading to cancellations for 9 patients. Postoperatively, the system allowed 100% concurrence in postoperative diagnoses between the primary caregivers and the surgeons.

Conclusions

Inexpensive, low-bandwidth telemedicine solutions can support intermittent surgical services by providing patients to have contact with specialist care through their familiar, local primary caregivers.