I’m currently enrolled in a Master’s of Health Administration, Informatics program with the University of Phoenix. Our assignment this week was to analyze a trend in healthcare and given my specialization within the degree, I chose telemedicine as my topic.
Through the course of my research for the paper, I found an article referencing AFHCAN and the implementation of mobile telemedicine carts for widespread use in Alaska outside of urban centers. What I found most interesting in this article, was the creativity of the networking solution that was put into place to provide remote locations with large volumes of information, including x-rays and graphics.
At the time the article was written in 2006, Alaska’s infrastructure is described as still being highly reliant on dial-up modems at speeds of under 900 baud. Applications and systems that require a high rate of bandwidth therefore wouldn’t suit well for implementing a remote care system.
The AFHCAN project instead focused on the real bottom-line necessities of a telemedicine system and made use of asynchronous data transfer to transmit large amounts of information from remote locations to assisting specialists.
The mobile carts used also combine technologies that are practical for use in the target setting. Some of these technologies are pretty cutting edge, including video otoscopes and similar, or as prosaic as a scanner and a digital camera with a docking port.
The beauty of this system is that it really works and provides excellent health outcomes for patients who are diagnosed through the tool. It’s a case of a good usability, carefully targeted for the audience the tool is intended to serve. On top of all that, the system helps to save money on transport costs, allowing the carts to pay for themselves.
This is the kind of application of technology that really gets me excited about the marriage of high tech and healthcare and where things might be headed in the future.
Alaska Telemedicine: Growth Through Collaboration
Harler, C. (2006, October). Telemedicine: Alaska net shows how narrow you can go. Business Communications Review, 54-57.