Hospitals are busy places. In densely populated areas, or during busy times, there are only so many beds—and doctors—to go around. Doctors are constantly on the go, moving from floor to floor and patient to patient. With so many in need of care and attention, there’s a desire for doctors to connect with patients at any time. Unfortunately, there’s also an inability for doctors to be in more than one place at a given time.
The solution to this problem can be found in the recent advances in telecommunications. Collaboration tools similar to the ones today’s businesses are using can be applied in the medical setting. Thanks to an invention called the virtual doctor, physicians can now utilize all of the vital equipment one would find in the emergency room, remotely.
This means wand cameras, heart monitors, electronic stethoscopes, computers and monitors can all be deployed without the doctor being physically present with the patient.
Additionally, there are two built-in cameras and a virtual communication system to ensure that simulation is completely seamless. And as an added benefit, the machine is completely portable and can be rolled about a facility effortlessly—which means installation and maintenance will never be an issue.
According to its creator, Salter HealthCare Chief Operating Officer Bob Driscoll of Medford, Mass., the machine is not meant to replace the level of care associated with a face-to-face interaction but to assist with day-to-day patient care.
“Similar to video conferencing, the telepresence med cart allows patients and doctors to have remote visits,” Driscoll explains. “This certainly doesn’t replace in-person visits but it offers great collaboration tools for a post-acute setting because it’s less disruptive for our patients and keeps them connected with doctors and specialists when they are not available on-site.”
The ability for doctors to remotely access patients without being physically present in the room is made possible through the integration of audio and web conferencing services. The virtual doctor will primarily assist with the following office functions:
- EKG readings
- Heart rate measurements
- Wound assessment
- Patient information access
In addition to reducing emergency room visits, the virtual doctor will also help to facilitate patient communication with their physician. If a patient has a question, for instance, they can connect and ask through the device instead of having to page the doctor and have them leave what they are doing to assist. This communication is sent over a secure network to ensure that patient information is kept safe.