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Technology brings virtual care to life

Imagine visiting a newborn in another state without having to leave home. By Andrew Barbash, M.D.

hether enjoying happy moments, as in the birth of a baby, or navigating serious health issues, such as a stroke, there’s a transformation now in how healthcare professionals collaborate in real time to track and share data, consult with one another and communicate with other care providers, patients and their families.

W The Motorola Xoom tablet, powered by Verizon, helps bring virtual care to life.

Despite signifi cant advances in electronic records and other healthcare-related technologies, however, most physicians, allied health professionals, patients and fam- ily caregivers agree that communication and collaboration remain major challenges to ensuring continuity of patient care. When collaboration doesn’t occur in real time, the result can be costly to patient outcomes, their families and other healthcare industry stakeholders. Creating virtual care environments, with easy-to-use

8 October 2011

chat and video applications and powered by super-fast wireless networks, solves this long-standing problem. Vir- tual care, a more all-encompassing term than telemedicine, refers to the broad usage of commonly accessible telecom- munications methods in order to advance care processes across the traditional practice boundaries. The key is for all participants to leverage new tools and services that are already “consumer- centric” from a usability perspective, in order to improve care without the constraints of physical space and location. Virtual care employs basic text chat and vid- eo applications, such as Google Talk, Vidyo and GoToMeeting, powered by super-fast wireless networks, such as Ve- rizon Wireless’ 4G LTE. Through such networks, sharing data-rich sono- grams, CT scans, MRIs or electronic health records is seamless and instanta- neous. 4G LTE provides speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G, with de- creased latency, allowing physicians, patients and

other stakeholders to complete tasks previously unimagi- nable on a wireless device.

Imagine visiting a newborn in another state being as simple as a patient authorizing family members to sched- ule a time to just “drop in,” but the “room” in this case is mobile and accessed from a secure tablet (a Xoom or iPad for example), a mobile workstation or a 4G LTE- connected smartphone. The patient can have one type of device at the bedside, the nursing staff can start the visit


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