Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Humboldt Gets Telemedicine Grant

But just exactly what will it do? I can't help but wonder if the money spent will be worth it.

Don't get me wrong. I have a personal interest in seeing that medical information and procedures be expanded using long- distance technology. I don't want anybody to be forced to drive hundreds of miles for consultations. I just wonder if the medical community, or more specifically the medical culture, is set to embrace it.

I have had personal experience with this, as some of you may know, having to have made frequent trips to the UCSF Medical Center over the past couple of years. I believe our very own Jennifer Savage is in the same boat.

I've even recently had the experience- one which dragged out through this last summer- of seeing a little of how doctors up here inter- relate with doctors down there, as opposed to simply driving to UCSF to deal with medical problems.

To make a long story short, the wife was hospitalized numerous times beginning early this summer. There was a great deal of coordination between her local physician, Dr. William Bonis, and the staff at St. Joseph's Hospital. However, coordination between St. Joseph's and UCSF seemed to leave much to be desired, especially at first.

I got the impression much of the problem relied on territorial concerns. Each entity in the equation felt certain limits as to what they could do. I hesitate to comment further in regards what the local and distant doctors did since I wasn't closely involved in their interaction.

Bottom line was, maybe I was expecting too much. I was kind of hoping doctors up here could get information from doctors down there and apply it up here as necessary. But things just went the same way time after time. Finally, the wife was airlifted to UCSF with little to show, it seemed to me, after her return, and then sent down to UCSF, again, a month or so later.


Suffice it to say, the wife made a somewhat miraculous recovery after the second trip to UCSF and she seems to be recovering even more to this day. I would of hoped, though, that we could have been to the point of not having her made yet another trip to UCSF. That would be my dream for everyone up here: That they could have their medical needs- even advanced ones- taken care of up here, with the use of telemedicine.

We certainly don't seem to be to that point yet, and I really wonder if telemedicine could ever play the kind of part we'd like it to play in medicine, especially urgent medical care?

5 Comments:

At 10:25 PM, Blogger lodgepole said...

Fred, I met your Wife at that plant sale you posted about some time ago. I'm glad to hear she is feeling better. The artichokes, indoor ferns and japanese maple are doing quite nicely. The delphinium was beautiful.

 
At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Telemedicine would be good for this area as we are still losing doctors and I have heard that some specialties are not even covered here any more as those doctors left the area. People can't be expected to find an out of area doctor and then travel for appointments frequently.

Some large cities have telemedicine for ambulances and are in communication with a hospital doctor who can diagnose the patient and let the ambulance emt's know what they should give the patient even with major events like heart attacks as the ambulances carry all IV solutions that the hospital would give. Saves a lot of lives.

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger Fred said...

"Telemedicine would be good for this area as we are still losing doctors and I have heard that some specialties are not even covered here any more as those doctors left the area.".

Yes, but how many doctors up here will be willing to treat a patient based on information they receive from a doctor down south via telemedicine? And to what extent would they be willing to do so before they would send the patient down south for an in- person visit with a doctor down there?

How many doctors down south would be willing to "treat" a patient with advice or recommendations to another doctor up here via telemedicine? At what point would they have the patient make a personal visit and cease the telemedicine?

Keep in mind there's some liability involved here.

As you point out, it's already being done all over the place. We do telemedicine to a great extent up here already, seems to me.

What I want to ask the next doctor I have a chance to talk to is what sort of things- with this future telemedicine- they'll be able to do with improvements in the system that they can't do now? Also, what sort of improvements we can't expect to happen but are simply hoping will?

 
At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Narration said...

Fred, am very glad to hear your wife is better. She sounds like a quite stalwart one, and it is nice hearing about her.

On the telemedicine, with all due respect for the chorus of liability, etc., it sounds a very positive move forward.

The history is old: doctors don't often talk to each other. New types of communications and increasing understanding of the biology they work with are the two changes in existing conditions which will influence towards change in this.

Reason: I think almost all doctors actually mean very well, and they will use tools when those will evidently help them. Also, it may be much easier to allow informative talk with a 'university expert' than with the other physician down the street. I believe you know of this phenomenen in other circles....

Hope in some way this new ability helps your family situation.

Best regards to both of you.

 
At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Narration said...

Could just add what I didn't in previous reply, if it helps. My own father had two big difficulties later in his life. One was the kidney disease which doctors had kept him alive from for many years, from long before there was dialysis, and so was thought he wouldn't survive long. The other was heart disease which developed, leading to bypass etc. which was not as helpful for him as many.

When the time came for the bypass surgery, the two expert doctors wouldn't talk. In fact, they were rather top in their field. My father had to finally hogtie them by refusing the surgery until they did talk. This worked, and so there was a syringe laid out during procedure that actually saved his life - from that talk.

The two diseases were in fact related, also, and in those years he got not the benefit of that later knowledge that could have been shared.

My own field has deeply to do with learning 'in the field' of professional conduct, and that is why I made the comments I did about how a proper culture could quickly grow up around this remote advice, as long as it's pitched right. It's healthy thinking, anyway. And I hope this little story gives a better idea why I feel the idea to be sound.

Take care, Fred, and that nice person with you. Life's lived each day, and that's the nice part of your column, what attracted me to it.

Those trips down and back through the Redwoods, bring me that little bit back home.

 

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