New evidence that emphasizes the important role of telemedicine in promoting healthcare has been revealed by a recent study conducted by researchers from Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo. The study showed that rapid electronic review of children's heart images by physicians approximately 200 miles away allowed earlier diagnosis and treatment of potentially serious pediatric cardiology problems. This result comes after an earlier report indicating that telemedicine could improve care for senior citizens battling depression.
The study was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco. Researchers performed a retrospective study; they searched 11 years of data on first-time pediatric echocardiograms performed at St. John's Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., and transmitted to pediatric cardiology specialists at Children's Mercy 160 miles away, between April 1998 and October 2009. Over 70 % of the echocardiograms were performed because the local physician suspected a heart murmur, according to a statement released by the hospital. Approximately 73.6 % of the echocardiograms proved to be normal by Children's Mercy specialists. Only 15 echocardiograms (1.7 %) out of the 905 evaluated required a transfer to Children's Mercy for treatment. Over the 11 years evaluated, the method of transmission was primarily video tape over integrated services digital network (ISDN), but recently it changed to digital studies transmitted over the internet.