AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

Telemedicine Joins the Fight against Ebola

As news outlets report the increased number of healthcare workers becoming infected with Ebola while treating patients with the deadly disease, concern for the welfare of healthcare workers around the globe is mounting. Ebola is an extremely infectious and deadly virus which is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids. Doctor and nurses who treat patients are highly prone to becoming infected while administering treatment to Ebola patients. More than 320 health workers who have treated Ebola patients have died of the disease and several others have been infected and survived.

Telemedicine is becoming a very effective weapon in treating Ebola patients while protecting care givers from being infected. From the evaluation of a potentially infected person to the routine communication of treatment, telemedicine can be a remote vehicle used to administer treatment while the patient is in isolation. Medical staff or specialists located anywhere around the globe can be consulted and participate in providing the best and latest care. Many healthcare providers will be spared the time, expense and inconvenience of relocating to areas where the disease poses the greatest risk. Telemedical technology can be useful to containment efforts at points of entry such as airports, emergency rooms, border crossings, schools and military installations.

In the military and Veterans Administration the benefits of telemedicine to the treatment of infectious diseases is not new. Telemedicine has been used to care for U.S. troops dispersed throughout the world and to veterans at home for nearly a decade. According to the Association of Military Surgeons, infectious disease tele-consults ranked second in the total number of online consults, and a study of the infectious disease tele-consultation service found the service to be providing beneficial and relevant recommendations for treatment in a timely fashion.

Telemedicine has become very successful in the private sector as well; improving access to specialized care to rural communities throughout the United States and remote areas of the world. Advanced treatments for stoke and other neurological diseases are now readily available remotely to patients, who were once too far removed from urban medical centers to benefit from time-sensitive treatment, improving recovery prospects and saving lives.

Defenders against contagious diseases can learn important lessons from these successful experiences and gain vital insights as to how telemedicine can improve care for patients and healthcare workers alike.

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