Telemedicine FAQs

What is Telemedicine?

Is the diagnostic quality of the data, images or sound used in telemedicine to diagnosis and treat a patient as good as that collected in a face-to-face exam?

What factors most affect the success of a telemedicine program?

The technology is so complex, how can I be sure that everything will work as planned?

When should I first contact AMD about medical device selections?

Our telemedicine program plans to serve a number of remote regions with little access to trained professionals and the potential for high turnover. Can we effectively train people in remote regions to operate sophisticated equipment?

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine (also referred to as "telehealth" or "e-health") allows health care professionals to use "connected" medical devices in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of patients in other locations. These devices are enhanced through the use of telecommunications technology, network computing, video-conferencing systems and CODECs. Specialized application software, data storage devices, database management software, and medical devices capable of electronic data collection, storage and transmission are all key components of the Telemedicine infrastructure.

Telemedicine customarily uses two methods to transmit images, data and sound - either "live", real-time transmission where the consulting professional participates in the examination of the patient while diagnostic information is collected and transmitted, or "store and forward" transmission, where the consulting professional reviews data asynchronous with its collection. Many programs employ both transmission capabilities, to maximize efficient use of resources appropriate to the medical services being provided.

Is the diagnostic quality of the data, images or sound used in telemedicine to diagnosis and treat a patient as good as that collected in a face-to-face exam?

AMD and its manufacturing partners recognize that physicians will not participate in telemedicine programs unless they are comfortable with the quality of diagnostic information. AMD devices capture diagnostic information at least comparable to that customarily relied upon by physicians and, in many instances, capture more complete data than obtained in a typical physician's office. With AMD devices, physicians can review and analyze data in ways that is often not available in a physician's office.

As a simple example, physicians typically receive ECG data on a difficult-to-read paper strip representing only several seconds of the data set. The data strip is often placed manually in a medical record and is subject to degradation over time. With a paper strip, the interpreting physician does not have access to all of the underlying data, and analysis is limited to data presented on the strip. In comparison, the AMD-3875 12 Lead ECG captures and transmits complete ECG data sets in digital format. A physician may segment the data in a variety of ways for analysis, apply a large number of analytical tools, print reports in customized formats, and electronically archive in a medical record.

In most video-based diagnostic applications, AMD devices highly magnify subject anatomy, and physicians benefit from viewing the images on monitors with powerful software tools to enhance images, to make annotations, and to archive for future reference.

AMD works carefully with physicians to make sure that AMD devices provide the high quality data that physicians need and rely upon to support their diagnosis and treatment decisions.

What factors most affect the success of a telemedicine program?

Successful telemedicine programs start with a well-crafted plan to guide the development of the program and its subsequent operation. Critical factors affecting the success of the program include:
  • A well-crafted plan
  • Clear program objectives with an ability to measure performance
  • Consulting physician support
  • Technology selections, including medical devices, designed to achieve program objectives
  • Adequate funding
  • Training, Training and more Training!!! and
  • Integration of the program into everyday clinical practice
If you address these issues in the planning process, it is far more likely that the program will achieve success and continuing institutional support.

With over 7,200 telemedicine site installations in more than 92 countries, AMD brings a wealth of expertise and experience to assist you in the development of your telemedicine program. Feel free to contact us to obtain assistance in the planning of your program.

The technology is so complex, how can I be sure that everything will work as planned?

First, document the requirements of the program to avoid misunderstandings or technology conflicts or deficiencies. Second, use modular design to the extent possible and plan for flexibility. Technology always changes. New applications will appear and existing ones may become obsolete. You want the flexibility to add to your program while changing the parts that are obsolete, not the entire system. Third, try to use standards-based products to assure ready availability of interface applications and inter-operability of component parts. Avoid the "home grown" trap. Finally, select vendors who have experience, are committed to the industry, have a history of working with other vendors to deliver a fully integrated product, and stand behind their products and applications.

When should I first contact AMD about medical device selections?

When planning medical device selections, it is important to keep in mind what your program is trying to achieve - the capture of high quality images, data and sound that can be transmitted from the patient location to consulting professionals who assist in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of the patient. In order to embrace telemedicine, those health care professionals must be convinced that the selected devices will produce data they can rely on to make a diagnosis. The program must be planned around diagnostic data acquisition, and that starts with medical devices. Contact AMD early in the planning process.

In most programs, medical devices are the last items of technology installed. The other technology choices you make, however, can dramatically affect your medical diagnostic options - often limiting those options in ways that can dramatically compromise program success. AMD telemedicine specialists will be happy to consult early in the planning process - even if you are not planning on acquiring medical devices for many months. Trained in a number of related technologies such as video conferencing systems and CODECS, telecom and IP, network computing and software applications and interfaces, AMD telemedicine specialists can provide answers and help you find the right resources to lessen the time and lower the cost of program development.

Feel free to contact AMD early in the planning process. AMD is committed to the development of your successful telemedicine program.

Our telemedicine program plans to serve a number of remote regions with little access to trained professionals and the potential for high turnover. Can we effectively train people in remote regions to operate sophisticated equipment?

Nothing affects the success of a telemedicine program more than effective training programs, which allow program participants to use the technology with confidence. The first step is to assess the tasks of each participant. In many remote regions, tele-presenters are trained principally for data acquisition and documentation, not data interpretation. Data interpretation is left to the consulting health care professionals. Once the role of each program participant is defined, it is much easier to develop an effective training program.

AMD recommends that the program provide for the training of participants at inception, with a refresher training program within 60 - 90 days to address specific participant questions and to reinforce the earlier training effort. If the program anticipates expansion or turnover, a "train the trainer" program can be established to allow your personnel to conduct the first level of training. AMD can then provide periodic refresher training, or training for new participants.

AMD offers a number of training options, including on-site training (popular at program inception and for "train the trainer" programs), video conference training available on a per session basis (great for refresher training), and custom training programs for large telemedicine programs that may require more frequent training support.

In the end, you will find that a small investment in training pays significant dividends in program performance.
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