The Government has embarked on a Telemedicine pilot project for persons in remote areas to access medical specialists at the University Hospital of the West Indies, in conjunction with a major telecommunications provider.
It is being done under the Telemedicine Proof of Concept (POC) project with Cable and Wireless Jamaica, with the aim of reducing the time to deliver patient care, by linking them, via teleconferencing/video conferencing, with specialist physicians and clinicians from health centres and certain hospitals, through mobile devices.
Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, who launched the project officially on October 10 at the Kitson Town Health Centre in St. Catherine, said the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon will also be part of the trial period for the new system.
“We have to find a way to reach patients, wherever they are, utilising technology, in order to deliver service,” the Minister said, adding that the extent to which the telemedicine method works, “is the extent to which we will roll it out across Jamaica”.
“It is difficult for someone who has a chronic ailment or an emergency to travel long distances to get attention, and it is risky,” the Minister said, noting that the system will help in saving time and money.
For his part, Medical Chief of Staff at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), Dr. Carl Bruce, said the development is “very significant” and that the Ministry has purchased equipment to enable specialist doctors, such as kidney specialists, cardiologists, and ear and throat physicians, to reach patients, using the broadband of the telecoms provider.
Telemedicine involves the use of audio, video or computer technology to examine, monitor and manage patients who
It also allows doctors to team up on patient care, participate in diagnostic procedures and keep abreast of current practices. It is now used around the world in the treatment of paediatric patients, persons living in remote communities and those requiring home-based care.