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Osama and Telemedicine

by Dr. Reeja Tharu on  May 14, 2011 at 2:32 PM Health Watch   - G J E 4
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Osama bin Laden has been laid-in and Uncle Sam is rejoicing!

Perhaps it is a good time to reflect on some of the behind-the-scenes activities that the war seems to have induced!
 Osama and Telemedicine
Osama and Telemedicine

One of the notable outcomes of the Iraq war, in which the US military fought against the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his men, is the role of telemedicine and the unprecedented practice of remote healthcare.

Charles R. Doarn, MBA, Research Associate Professor of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati said, "When the US is faced with a challenge, whether it's a war or the Space Race, there's always a need for developing new technologies."

"Because of the 9/11 tragedy, not just the Army but the military itself began to develop technologies that enhanced and enabled the delivery of healthcare to the battlefield," noted Doarn, who also happens to be one of two editors-in-chief of Telemedicine and the journal e-Health.

According to developed e-medicine technologies, military personnel in Afghanistan can make use of an e-mail-based system to photograph their conditions and forward those electronic images to remote healthcare providers for further analysis.

It is encouraging to note that they got a response in an average turnaround time of five hours.

Col. Ronald Poropatich, M.D., is the deputy director of the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), which is part of the US Army Medical Research & Materiel Command (MRMC) based at Fort Detrick, MD.

Col. Poropatich said that since 2004, when the telemedicine program was launched, 9,000 consultations have been carried out. The majority of these were for dermatological conditions, infectious disease, cardiology, orthopedics, and neurology.

Over the past year in the Middle East, the Army had extended its capacity for tele-health consultations even to remote sites with very limited health support such as forward operating bases and command outposts—areas with no behavioral health support and very limited medical access.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The Army hopes to soon connect troop members with behavioral health professionals sitting at the remote locations as part of a screening program. This will help to identify the 'most depressed' so that they may then be referred for face-to-face consultations.

"The war has been instrumental in advancing telemedicine capabilities," Col. Poropatich said.

It is interesting to note that easy accessibility to health care has made telemedicine very popular, especially in the war scenario.

This should encourage governing bodies across the world to promote telemedicine and make health care easily accessible to everyone, especially to those in remote areas.

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