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Experimenting with feasibility of telemedicine in Alaska: successes and lessons learned.

Alaska may be ideally suited as a test site for telemedicine. It is by far the nation's largest state, with a population of only 550,000 clustered around a few cities and towns or widely spread across an area almost two and a half times as large as Texas. Its ratio of doctors to patients is the second lowest in the nation, and the cost of medical care exceeds that in the lower 48 states by 90%. Almost half of its residents are affiliated with the federal government in some way. Active duty and retired members of the military and their families (including children) represent 70,000 of the state's residents, and another 160,000 are affiliated with the Coast Guard, the Indian Health Service, and the Department of Veteran Affairs. In 1995, a telemedicine initiative was launched under the auspices of the 3rd Medical Center at Elmendorf Air Force Base. Its mission was to integrate video conferencing and store-and-forward technology into patient care. Brief but well-documented efforts yielded many valuable lessons on how relatively simple, low-bandwidth technology can be effectively used and its limitations. In addition, unexpected changes were observed in the way health care was delivered. This experience should provide valuable lessons for those embarking on this path to health care delivery.[1]

References

  1. Experimenting with feasibility of telemedicine in Alaska: successes and lessons learned. Forkner, M.E., Reardon, T.G., Carson, G.D. Telemedicine journal : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association. (1996) [Pubmed]
 
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