“Since its introduction in the 1970s, telemedicine – the electronic linkage of healthcare providers and recipients – has held promise for improved disaster response outcomes,” said the study’s senior author, Nathaniel Hupert, associate professor of public health and medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and co-director of the Cornell Institute for Disease and Disaster Preparedness. “As information technology becomes pervasive, we want to ensure that systems are in place to fully realize its potential for helping patients – particularly for emergency response.”
The team’s results, published in the Journal of Medical Systems, show that introducing telemedicine linkages between remote specialists and immediate responders in the aftermath of a widespread disaster such as an earthquake could decrease both patient waiting times and hospitalization rates at nearby hospitals, while increasing the likelihood that patients with life-threatening injuries receive appropriate care – as compared with standard emergency department-based triage and treatment.
“In this time of national crisis, it would have certainly been helpful for Japan to have a robust healthcare IT network in place,” wrote Nrip Nihalani on his blog Wirelysis. Nihalani is CEO at Plus91, a healthcare IT firm in Pune, India.
“While Japan does have a healthcare IT strategy setup, with benefits and stimulus funds, it is relatively new and yet to mature,” he noted. “Health data digitization and electronic record keeping is still in its infancy. Japan does not boast of large scale electronic medical record coverage.”
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