With few eye specialists on hand, how do you fight preventable infant blindness? Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the largest pediatric multispecialty medical group in the U.S., approached the problem with technology. Rather than waiting for infrequent medical missions trips to Armenia, Thomas Lee, MD, and his team use pediatric telemedicine so that specialists in L.A. can train surgeons in remote locations and empower them to combat child blindness without waiting for assistance.
In Armenia and neighboring rural areas, the rate of infant blindness is about three times the rate of Western countries. This type of blindness, caused by certain retinal conditions, is preventable if treated within 48 hours of birth, but the knowledge needed for the surgery is highly specialized.
Lee and his team first traveled to Armenia to provide care and assess the situation, where they found a shortage of surgeons trained for these types of eye surgeries. In addition, the short window of opportunity created a sense of urgency for each case; there could be no delays in finding a qualified surgeon.
Upon returning home, Lee’s team developed a telemedicine platform that could preserve a high-definition and high-frame-rate signal from L.A. to Armenia, 12 time zones away. Now, instead of being limited to one-on-one training, Lee and his specialists can multicast training sessions to surgeons all over the world. Experience that traditionally required months to obtain from various experts can now be gained rapidly from telemedicine seminars.
Lee is excited about the future of this telemedicine model, particularly its ability to increase access to care in underserved areas and its potential for alleviating the crisis in healthcare costs.
To learn more, visit Healthcare IT News here.