The SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital, Salut Catalunya Central - Hospital de Berga and the company Teladoc Health have launched a pioneering remote medical consultation system in Spain that, with the help of a robot, allows Hospital pediatricians to visit children receiving emergency care or who are born in the Hospital de Berga, as if they were in the actual consultation room.
Through this system, the professionals of the Hospital de Berguedà get the advice of a specialist in the fields of pediatrics, pediatric surgery, pediatric traumatology, intensive care, neonates and mental health 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The objective of the initiative is to share clinical decisions in both the diagnostic and therapeutic fields, and reduce the number of children who have to be referred to centres outside the region.
The device that makes these remote visits possible is a pioneering robot in Spain, developed by Teladoc Health. The robot has a screen on its back that allows the doctor when connected via videoconference from Barcelona to have the same view as if he or she entered the consultation room where the patient is in person.
The specialist can move the robot's “gaze” from one side to another, to look at the different monitoring devices and to address the child, the parents, or the professional who is attending them in person to improve their interaction with them. He/she can also access the biomedical parameters of the patients and the tests that they are undergoing at that time, in order to be able to assess them jointly with the professionals of the Hospital de Berga.
When a professional from the Hospital de Berga considers it necessary to consult the opinion of another pediatric specialist, they notify the head of the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital on-duty department. The latter responds to the query or, if necessary, looks for another more suitable specialist for the case and advises them to go to one of the connection points that have been enabled in the centre to make these remote visits. The Berga professional gives the Barcelona pediatrician a history of the case in question and both - one in person and the other through the robot - will enter the consultation room where the patient is to visit him/her.
A one-year pilot project to assess the efficacy and acceptance of the device
The remote medical consultation system was implemented on January 11 at the Hospital de Berga as a pilot project and within the framework of a research study. Over the course of a year, in addition to their effectiveness, the two centres will evaluate, the acceptance it receives from professionals, and from families and patients.
Francesc García Cuyàs, attached to the medical management and responsible for the digital transformation projects at the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital, considers that “this system of consultation by videoconference opens up many possibilities in the world of health, because it allows patients to have access to professionals who are more specialised in their disease even though they are physically separated by hundreds of kilometres and, what is more important, to have much more humanised access. They can see the professional, talk to them, ask them questions and, ultimately, interact with them as they would if they were in a conventional consultation”.
Anna Forcada, manager of the Hospital de Berga, points out that “it is an innovative system that avoids travel for users and connects our centre with a tertiary hospital, which allows us to offer much more specialised and high quality care to patients from a rural and geographically dispersed environment such as that of our region. The project has been very well received both by hospital professionals and by the patients who have benefited so far”.
The SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital and Teladoc Health have other projects underway to connect reference hospitals with others further afield, and it is planned that the same system will be used at the Hospital de Andorra shortly. Rafa Gotsens, Medical Director of Teladoc Health International, highlights that “technology is a very important medium in the health field, which can help the professional to give a better service to the patient and ensure that there really is equitable access for everyone to first-rate health services, regardless of your location. Therefore, we must bring medicine closer to the patient and facilitate the work of doctors, hence our objective of extending this type of collaboration to hospitals throughout Spain”.
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