An outbreak of the Ebola virus has stoked fears of a wider epidemic. Health official are scampering to find ways to contain and combat the virus. Primary care, isolation measures and vaccination trials are just a few of the tools being employed to defeat the disease. Telemedicine is emerging as one of the most important weapons in the fight against Ebola.
The threat posed by Ebola is doubly grave. Diagnosis, primary care and containment are necessary to stop the disease, but health providers in the field put themselves at great risk when treating infectious epidemics. Thankfully, telemedicine is also a terrific way of delivering care without exposing health providers to infectious diseases. Here are just a few ways telemedicine is being used in the campaign against Ebola:
Acute Care: Recently, the Bio Containment Patient Care Unit at the Nebraska Medical Center incorporated telemedicine into its treatment of Dr Richard Sacra, a physician who contracted the Ebola virus while providing care in Liberia. Dr. Sacra was isolated during his stay, but he was able to interact with his caregivers via video conference. His treatment was successful and he has since been released from the hospital. The Bio Containment unit in Nebraska is one of only four centers in the country that is equipped to handle cases like Dr. Sacra’s.
Mobile Medicine: Mobile devices are being enlisted in the fight against Ebola too. A Singapore start-up, Health2i, has a developed a new app, Doctor Gratis, which connects mobile users with physicians. The app includes information about Ebola and helps health consumers and patients interact with healthcare providers. The app may be especially useful in the fight against infectious diseases, since it minimizes caregiver to patient contact, which can help spread disease.
Medical Collaboration: Peter Hulsroj, Director of the European Space Policy Institute, argues that telemedicine has a very important role to play in augmenting traditional medicine in the campaign against Ebola. In his view, telemedicine can help the global medical community assist local caregivers on the frontlines. Of course, where an outbreak like Ebola is concerned, there is no substitute for the medical personnel delivering care on the ground. However, Hulsroj and others believe that telemedicine can be enlisted in specific ways to combat Ebola. They include:
- Early diagnosis.
- Supervision of treatment regimens.
- Peer-to-peer collaboration.
- Evaluation of medical tests.
- Training fieldworkers.
- Real-time information sharing between caregivers in the field and experts from afar.
According to Dr. Dale Alverson, “Telemedicine is playing a bigger and bigger role in the healthcare of patients the world over, and the innovations of new technologies and models of healthcare are is central to the future of medicine.” Its role in combating Ebola is just one example of how this technology is changing the field of healthcare. The Ebola virus recognizes no boundaries; therefore it is a threat to the global community. Telemedicine is helping heath officials and providers from across to globe collaborate and pool their resources to contain and defeat Ebola. Technology is not a panacea for outbreaks like Ebola, but it can certainly be an important part of the cure.
About Bob Higginbotham
Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org