US Army telehealth program gets slow start

Thursday, January 20 2011

The United States Army is now working to implement video conferencing as a way to provide much-needed healthcare services to soldiers serving abroad.

A pilot program that allows soldiers to speak remotely with healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, via a video conferencing system has been proposed by many who are familiar with the strain war can take on a soldiers' mind. Yet, the initiative has been slow to pick up speed.

Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Semidei, a psychiatrist practicing in Virginia, told Government Health IT that video conferencing allows him to see more patients in a shorter time period and helps reduce the hazards associated with long distance travel. However, he admitted that he's not surprising the government is taking time to embrace it.

"Not many providers have jumped at the chance to test the new system," Semidei explained to the source. "Providers are typically hesitant to implement new systems or processes. We like proven solutions."

Many doctors agree that telehealth - which allows patients to see doctors via video conferencing technology - could be a massive boon for people in rural and underserved areas, including soldiers stationed overseas. It may, however, take some convincing before widespread implementation of these technologies is possible.