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The Future of Medical Technology

Real Time, Virtual Support For Health Professionals: An Ideal State In Digital Emergency Medicine

Doctors having a video conference
Doctors having a video conference
Kendall Ho headshot

Dr. Kendall Ho

Director, eHealth Strategy Office, UBC Faculty of Medicine, &
Practicing Emergency Physician, Vancouver General Hospital
FRCPC, Emergency Medicine

As digital technologies rapidly evolves, Emergency Medical departments can leverage virtual capabilities to provide better resources and knowledge sharing for professionals, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

Computers, tablets and smartphones allow health professionals to connect with each other to deliver health care in real time in many ways, such as text messaging, e-mails, group chats, and videoconferencing. These different approaches can facilitate one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many communication. As an emergency physician, I am particularly interested in how technologies can help me to obtain just-in-time e-consults with colleagues to treat my patients when I need the support. Great examples include showing a photo of a puzzling skin rash to a dermatologist, discussing a semi-urgent case with a small group of colleagues to discuss a management plan, or engaging an intensive care physician side-by-side as a virtual team member to resuscitate a very sick patient.

This would be particularly helpful for my colleagues in rural and isolated communities where they don’t routinely have a wide spectrum of specialists practicing in their communities. To make this real time virtual support possible, appropriate equipment needs to be placed right in the Emergency Departments, and health professionals need to practice using these technologies under different scenarios with colleagues in order to integrate these digital health skills in our routine care delivery. Having experts available at our “electronic fingertips” to treat our patients will truly transform how we can care for them in their times of urgent need.

UBC Department of Emergency Medicine has established a BC Emergency Medicine Network to connect doctors providing emergency services, with real time virtual support being an important component. I look forward to a brave new world where doctors practice without geographical borders to help patients wherever and whenever they are. Modern technologies can make this happen!

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