March 28, 2003 at 8:39 PM CST - Updated June 17 at 6:45 AM
Telehealth Technology By: Wendy Ray
(Sikeston, MO)--People living in rural parts of Missouri often don't get the kind of high-tech medical help available in larger cities
, but Missouri Governor Bob Holden wants to change that. The Governor's plan is called Telehealth, and he says it's a way to provide healthcare to patients at the right time, place, and price.
Dr. Karen Edison is a few hundred miles away from Leora Hamilton, but that doesn't matter. With the help of a little camera, Telehealth technology allows her to diagnose Hamilton's skin problem, put her on the right medications, and make her better.
"A patient like me who can't travel to Columbia and then the cost of dermatology," Hamilton says. "It's a good program for patients who are low income." Dr. Musa Wadi at Sikeston Family Clinic says, "For the last two months Ms. Hamilton's come to the clinic we've tried to treat her here but we're not specialists in dermatology. Without the help of Dr. Edison in Columbia we would not have been able to cure her, now she's cured."
"Telehealth is about as 90 percent good as us being there, because our job is so visual," Dr. Edison says. Governor Holden wanted the Telehealth network in Missouri, so local healthcare workers could provide care to patients whenever they need it, without having to travel for the latest in medical care. "It's providing healthcare for people who would have waited longer, forcing them to go to the emergency room and costing them more money to taxpayers instead of solving the problem immediately,"
Governor Holden says. Hamilton's happy with the results she's seen from Telehealth. Hamilton tells Dr. Edison she felt better three days after she took the medication she prescribed. "The time she spends at the clinic, the cost to the clinic, and cost to her, have been reduced," Governor Holden says.
There are 30 Telehealth sites in Missouri, including Sikeston, New Madrid, Lilbourn, Bernie, Kennett, and Portageville.