Getting to a doctor can be hard if you're living on a small island in the Pacific Ocean, and very expensive if the visit requires a flight to a hospital in for example Honolulu, Hawaii, and possibly a night at an hotel. I wrote about telemedicine programs in Hawaii back in 2001 when telemedicine was just being explored, but the State of Hawaii last Thursday (January 15, 2009)launched a statewide program that allows patients to "see" a doctor without having to travel.
Ina Fried wrote in her CNET blog on January 15, 2009 that:
"The state is the first to offer online physician visits statewide, under a program that kicks off Thursday. (....) Hawaii passed a law in 2006 that paved the way for Thursday's launch. The legislation led HMSA to look for ways to implement online health care, a search that eventually led the company to Boston-based American Well. The two companies have been working together since last June, along with Microsoft, whose HealthVault system is supported to allow patients to maintain their own health care records. " (my italics, HS.)
More sources for info about telemedicine in the Pacific Ocean:
Hawaii: Testbed for Telemedicine (Metro, 2001)
Doctors Will Make Web Calls in Hawaii (New York Times, 2009)
STAN (State of Hawaii Telehealth Access Network)
For more information about the prospects for using information technology in U.S. healthcare, watch the Senate hearing on Investing in Health IT: A Stimulus for a Healthier America.
Telemedicine and Telehealth in the Pacific Islands Area (Peacesat/Pan-Pacific Education and Communication Experiments by Satellite, University of Hawaii)
Telehealth Research Institute
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