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Potential of Mobile Remote-Presence Devices Discussed

WEDNESDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Mobile remote-presence devices have the potential to increase access to and improve delivery of health care in the developed and developing world, according to an innovations report published online June 17 in CMAJ, the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Noting that distance and lack of adequate health care infrastructure and medical expertise are barriers to the provision of health care, Ivar Mendez, M.D., Ph.D., and Michiel C. Van den Hof, M.D., from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, discuss the potential of mobile remote-presence devices for providing medical care.

The authors note that mobile remote-presence technology can connect physicians to the point-of-care setting via wireless networks, thereby promoting real-time assessment and monitoring of patients. There is currently limited evidence supporting the wide use of remote-presence mobile technology, although pilot studies are underway. These devices could be used in emergency settings for trauma assessment; in primary care settings for monitoring patients with chronic disease; in mental health care settings where there is limited access to physiatrists; and in the developing world for promotion of access to health care, collaboration, sharing of resources, and knowledge transfer.

"Although mobile telemedicine may be applied initially to emergency situations, remote locations, and the developing world, its major impact may be in the delivery of primary health care," the authors write. "We can envision the use of mobile remote-presence devices by allied health personnel in a wide range of scenarios, from home care visits to follow-up sessions for mental health care, in which access to medical expertise in real time would be just a phone call away."

The authors disclosed collaboration with InTouch Health and other high-tech companies.

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