JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University is making sure their students know how to provide quality care to rural patients, school officials said Wednesday.
They are doing that by teaching the students how to perform telemedicine.
Dr. Shane Speights, the dean of NYIT at A-State, said they are the only medical school in the country that begins teaching telemedicine in the first year of medical school.
That helps students feel just as comfortable doing an exam through telemedicine as they would in the same room with a patient.
"If we continue to introduce medical students into the practice of medicine but don't include telemedicine, when they finally get into practice and they're acting as attending physicians they will not be prepared to delivered telemedicine services and they will be foreign to that," Telemedicine Assistant Professor and Innovator Health CEO Dr. Darren Sommer said. "So by introducing it in the first and second year, the biases of 'well, my central nervous exam is not as good through telemedicine as it is in person' is now clearly debunked."
The screen is full-sized and three-dimensional, which makes patients feel more connected to the doctors they are talking to.
"So you and I have direct eye contact, which we typically don't have with traditional Skype-like technologies," Dr. Sommer explained. "And you also may appreciate a 3D effect. So as I reach my hand out you can see the depth and it's coming out, so if I lean in to talk to a patient and I get larger on the screen the brain perceives it as me getting closer and then they get empathy."
As healthcare continues to become more specialized, Dr. Sommer believes the technology will be used even more to help the roughly 65 million Americans that live in rural parts of the country.
"If you take an average person over the age of 65, they visit a specialist six times each year," Dr. Sommer said. "So we could take two, three, or four of those visits and do them by telemedicine in a local community and one, two, or three by commuting and that's a pretty nice balance that could help improve access and quality and also give patients a little more time with their physicians."
The telemedicine equipment used at NYIT is also being used at medical centers in Jonesboro, Piggott, Wynne, and Pocahontas.
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