Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Telemedicine possibilities as limitless as the West Texas sky

Telemedicine possibilities as limitless as the West Texas sky

telemedicine-possibilities-as-limiteless-as-the-west-texas-sky- image0For people who live in this beautiful and expansive part of the world that we call home, securing access to health care can be a hassle because of the travel involved. For many years, Texas Tech University School of Medicine has used telemedicine to solve at least a portion of that problem.

The use of telemedicine is expected to grow. According to a new report published by IHS Technology, the number of patients worldwide using telemedicine services will rise to roughly seven million by 2018. Furthermore, the report estimates that revenue for telemedicine services will increase tenfold, from $440.6 million in 2013 to $4.5 billion in 2018.

We are talking about not just what we have historically defined as telemedicine, but also mobile health hubs and wearable technology. A term that is used a lot these days is telehealth. One of the most significant increases in telehealth usage is the remote monitoring of a patient’s condition by health care providers at a distant site. Dr. Craig Bradley and I have had numerous conversations about using mobile health devices here in our service area. The future is as bright and limitless, really, as our West Texas sky.

I have the opportunity to meet some of our medical students and I love that part of my job. It is interesting; today’s students started using smartphones and Skype as teenagers so they are very familiar with communications technology. I think we will see some great new uses of technology by the current group to achieve a meaningful doctor-patient relationship in new ways.

Finally, while I am on this topic, I want to recognize my friend, Debbie Voyles, who has served Tech as Senior Director of Telemedicine. Debbie is leaving for a great opportunity in Colorado to build a telemedicine program for the largest insurer of Medicaid in that state. She did a fine job for us and will be missed. We wish her the best in this new role.