Innovative communications win awards

Innovative uses of communication services are all over continuing medical education these days. Congratulations to the winners of Elliot Gold's "Wild & Unexpected Applications" awards presented at this year's Polycom User Group Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., for their work (which is great—I love that a company gives awards to those who use its products in cool ways). According to a press release, winners include some medical folks:

VideoCare received first place for the launch of its Telestroke program

    In August of 2005, first place winner VideoCare launched Southwestern Ontario's first Telestroke initiative through the use of Polycom's video telemedicine solutions. The program provided rural stroke patients with exposure to the most up-to-date and time sensitive stroke treatment. Through Telestroke technology, the stroke team in London, Ontario, is directly connected to rural hospitals via video, allowing specialists to assess stroke patients in real time from 67 sites.

Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics tied for third with its its virtual surgery program

    Tied for third place, CSTAR, a branch of the London Health Sciences Center (LHSC), is Canada's national center for developing, testing and teaching the use of next-generation technologies for minimally invasive procedures. Affiliated with the University of Western Ontario, CSTAR uses Polycom video conferencing technology to teach minimally invasive surgical skills remotely to surgeons located hundreds or thousands of miles away. CSTAR has also developed a tele-surgery program connecting doctors from the operating rooms back to CSTAR, where a more experienced doctor can virtually "see" the patient and help guide the operating doctor through the procedure.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center tied for third for its expansive Interpreter's Care Link network

    The medical center faced several challenges as they attempted to provide their non-English speaking patients with advanced medical services.

    "On average, BIDMC's ER receives more than 900 Russian speaking patients every year, nearly 900 who speak Spanish and hundreds more whose first language is Chinese, Farsi, Portuguese or Somali," said Julie Lytle, telemedicine coordinator for BIDMC. "The hospital found it necessary to connect a full-time staff of trained interpreters fluent in seven languages to assist its non-English speaking patients via video conferencing."

    The hospital's Interpreter's Care Link was developed to connect BIDMC's full-time staff of interpreters located at the far end of the organization's 32-acre campus directly to the ER using video conferencing, eliminating any lag in delivering care due to travel time.

And that's just a few ways people are using just one company's products to improve the way healthcare workers learn, and healthcare works. If you hear of any good ideas, please let me know.

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