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Telemedicine allows Rural ER’s to Consult with Pediatric Sub- Specialists

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As you compete for a new job in the medical field, you must not underestimate the impact your proficiency with technology could have on you being hired. It costs a great deal of money for hospitals to train physicians on technology; finding someone who already has that knowledge is invaluable to an organization.

For example, consider the impact telemedicine is making across health care.

According to Genevra Pittman of Reuters, “Researchers found rural ER doctors made errors in administering medication -- such as giving the wrong dose or the wrong drug altogether - just 3 percent of the time when they used so-called telemedicine to connect with a specialist. That compared to an 11 percent error rate when local doctors talked with a specialist by phone and a 13 percent error rate when they didn't consult with a specialist at all.”

Telemedicine has been on the health-care technology radar for a while now, but reform is motivating many organizations to invest in this technology, for obvious reasons.

According to Dr. James Marcin, senior author of the study Pittman referenced and part of the University of California Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento’s telemedicine team, “It's the difference between the doctor coming in to do an office visit with you with his or her eyes closed, versus with his or her eyes open.”

“During a telemedicine conference, specialists also tend to get more involved in the patient's care and may be more likely to speak up about their treatment opinion,” Pittman notes.

The study enlisted eight rural hospitals across Northern California and analyzed data collected for 234 children from 2003 until 2009.

Pittman reports, “Telemedicine was used for 73 of the sick or injured children. For another 85 patients, local doctors consulted with a specialist over the phone. For the remaining 76 kids, they did not ask for help.”

For the physicians using telemedicine, they administered only 146 medications versus 167 medications when a specialist worked via phone with a physician. Only five errors were made for the 146, but 18 errors resulted from the 167.

“The researchers could not tell whether fewer medication errors meant sick and injured children fared better in the end,” Pittman writes. “They also didn't know if doctors administered the drugs before or after conferencing or calling a specialist.”

Lead study author Dr. Madan Dharmar observed, “Telemedicine is becoming more and more mainstream, compared to what it was a decade back.”

As physicians looking for jobs, how important is it to be knowledgeable of such technology as telemedicine when on job interviews? Do you feel that your level of technological proficiency is competitive for the current health-care market?

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