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A new pilot project is expected to advance medical treatment in The Bahamas and save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by using advanced technology.

It allows doctors in New Providence to examine patients and consult with doctors on Family Islands without actually being face to face, according to health officials.

Doctors of the Public Hospitals Authority and Princess Margaret Hospital on Monday launched the telemedicine pilot project.

The new technology – which costs $112,000 to implement – uses high-speed point-to-point Internet connection to allow physicians and nurses on Family Islands to discuss the management of their patients with consulting staff in Nassau.

So far, the project has only been launched at PMH and the Marsh Harbour Community Clinic.

Doctors or nurses in Marsh Harbour can use a computer system to examine a patient, according to officials.

The image is broadcast via the Internet and viewed by doctors in Nassau. The patient is then diagnosed and treated.

Minister of Health Dr. Hubert Minnis noted that in 2006 the Department of Public Health spent a total of $456,000 on emergency airlifts from the Family Islands to New Providence.

He said the new technology will not only save lives, but will also be cost effective.

"It is very difficult and almost impossible for us to establish emergency rooms or hospital settings on every island that is cost prohibitive," the minister said.

"Therefore, with advanced technology today, rather than attempting to establish a Princess Margaret Hospital or a tertiary institution on every island, we can solidify our resources and essentially take PMH and all our specialists care to the most remote Family Islands. That way we all have equal care without necessarily needing to establish PMH or a tertiary institution on those particular islands."

Dr. Colin Bullard, a consultant in the Accident and Emergency Department at PMH, said the technology can improve the overall healthcare service in The Bahamas.

"In addition, telemedicine will help to improve the continuing education of the physicians, nurses and patients on these outer islands and remote communities," he said.

"This is going to be done by allowing the medical staff as well as the patients to participate in some of the weekly teaching sessions that we have here at PMH."

Dr. Minnis encouraged other sectors, like the financial and banking industries, to consider adding the technology to their work environment so that the entire country could advance technologically.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Paige Ferguson

Quelle/Source: The Bahama Journal, 04.12.2007

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