University of Michigan symposium charts course for the future of telemedicine


ANN ARBOR, Mich.— A pediatric patient in Marquette, Michigan is being examined by a doctor— but the doctor is 365 miles away in Ann Arbor. Elsewhere in Michigan, a mental health patient, his family and psychiatrist are participating in a commitment hearing in the safe, secure environment of a psychiatric unit— but the judge is actually on the other side of town.

These are examples of telemedicine, which uses technology to bring medical care to people who are geographically separate from their caregivers. It also allows doctors in various locations to collaborate with each other on patient care, participate in diagnostic procedures, stay current with continuing education, or meet with other health care professionals at a distance.

The symposium "Future Directions for Telemedicine" takes place May 20-22, 2004, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Participants will put a number of issues under the microscope. These include:

  • Synthesis of the evidence from telemedicine evaluation studies, with a special focus on scientific validation now, and in the future

  • Review of methods for measuring costs and benefits for achieving accurate, reliable assessments of telemedicine

  • Synthesis of telemedicine research findings pertaining to clinical outcomes of telemedicine with special emphasis on research design and outcome measurement in a variety of health care settings

  • Description of emerging technologies, including wireless and broad band systems, for telemedicine and clinical decision support with an emphasis on the practicality, advantages and disadvantages, and potential cost-effectiveness of their application

  • Description of the architecture for interoperability to support telemedicine services, the barriers for their implementation and recommendations for addressing these barriers in the United States and on a global basis

"The appropriate use of telemedicine can redress the problems of equal accessibility and geographical variations in quality while keeping costs in check," said Rashid L. Bashshur, Ph.D., Director of Telemedicine at the University of Michigan Health System and professor of health management policy at the School of Public Health at U-M. "Like so much of contemporary medicine, the future of telemedicine will be shaped by such things as quantifying evidence-based clinical outcomes and costs, and assimilating advances in technology."

This is the second symposium on telemedicine to be sponsored jointly by the University of Michigan Health System and the World Health Organization. The first was in 2001, with the final report being distributed to members of the U.S. Congress, the World Health Organization and the European Union.

Participants will come from the fields of medicine, public health, engineering and information science, biomedical and health services researchers, health policymakers and program developers.

Keynote speaker for the Friday evening banquet will be The Honorable Julio Frenk, M.D., Ph.D., Minister of Health, Mexico. University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman will open the conference with welcoming remarks.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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