New medical technology network comes to Jonesboro

Published: Mar. 7, 2013 at 6:34 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2013 at 7:42 PM CST
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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- A new technology that allows patients to consult with medical specialists around the state via videoconferencing is coming to Craighead County.

E-link is a statewide broadband network that connects health care providers and educational institutions for distance learning and "telemedicine"  via videoconferencing.The equipment was designed to take away the inconvenience of traveling to bigger cities for medical care.

"If they go in with a stroke say to Wynne in Cross County,"said Michael Manley, director of outreach for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Center for Distance Health. "They will be hooked up over interactive video to a neurologist in the state of Arkansas, it may be Little Rock , it may be Hot Springs, it may be Fort Smith. The physician can see them and work with a local ER physician there."

A demonstration of the equipment and capabilities took place Thursday at St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro. Medical staff will begin using the e-Link technology once they undergo training with the system. 

"All the hospitals across the state of Arkansas, community health centers, community mental health centers, as well as all the 4-year and 2-year universities will be on one network,"said Manley.

Arkansas e-Link is led by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and uses high-speed data transmission lines to connect 413 community medical facilities for videoconferencing. Twelve of those medical institutions are in Craighead County.

"By transferring images, by transferring data and by transferring patients over inter-active video,"he said.

 "That way we are going to be connected throughout the state and it's gonna save time and cost for the patients."

Chris Barber is the President and CEO of St. Bernards Health Care and said this technology will be very beneficial to the Region 8 community.

 "For example the ice storm when folks couldn't travel we could dial in and have interaction," said Barber.

"They will see that they will have more expertise, receive more advanced care at the local level."

Another piece of equipment, Ret-cam, allows doctors to take images of the retina to determine if a baby is developing retinopathy prematurity.

Douglas Seglem is the Director of St. Bernards  Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and said this new technology helps them treat more premature babies.  

"Many of these babies born pre-maturely," Seglem said. "Will stay in the hospital for weeks and weeks and to be away from work, to be away from social support, be able away from family."

Officials say this technology could help Arkansas provide better care to patients and possibly move up the ranking.

"Arkansas ranks 50th in a lot of things, in obesity and diabetes and stroke," Manley said.

Arkansas e-Link was created from a $102 million grant awarded in 2010 to UAMS and partner institutions. The technology will also allow medical personnel direct contact with other medial groups during an emergency or disaster.

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