Last week I accompanied the Chairman for a tour, technology demonstration, and dialog on health IT and telemedicine at Children’s National Medical Center here in Washington, DC.
We at the FCC, through the National Broadband Plan, Rural Health Care Pilots, and other telemedicine initiatives, are engaged in policymaking to improve the quality, efficiency, and availability of health care through communication technology.
I’ve read the news articles, policy briefs and heard from health IT professionals here at the FCC. But, nothing rivals witnessing firsthand how health IT is revolutionizing hospitals and doctors’ offices.
The first stop on the tour was the nurses’ station in the emergency department. A half dozen LCD panels each listed the name, condition, wait time, heart rate, and status (pending laboratory and radiology studies) of the admitted patients. This was previously tracked on a whiteboard in a static fashion. Moreover, all of this data is stored for quality analysis in patient records.
Next, we visited the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit where each room had a touchscreen with secure access to the patient’s essential aggregated health information. We also learned that doctors can remotely monitor the live data feed from medical equipment from their home office or on their smartphone.
We then received a demonstration at Children’s National’s telemedicine center. Children’s National has affiliate offices regionally, nationally, and internationally that allow for telemedicine consultations with Children’s National’s expert doctors. This enables doctors to see more patients and saves travel time for both the patients and doctors.
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