Health chief wants big telemedicine network across Georgia

Health chief wants big telemedicine network across Georgia

mlee@macon.comJanuary 24, 2013 

In two or three years, every county public health center across the state will be able to put patients in front of top specialists via telemedicine setups worth about $20,000 each, if the boss of the Georgia Department of Public Health has her way.

“We’re applying for grant money” aggressively, said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the public health commissioner, speaking after a state budget hearing Thursday.

By the end of 2012, all county health departments were finally wired up for teleconferencing, she said, meaning that patients can have a video chat with distant specialists.

Fitzgerald’s next step is rolling out so-called telemedicine “carts,” each a high-tech bundle of cameras, computers and sensors that can beam a patient’s status to faraway doctors.

An initial telemedicine program in Albany is looking at getting women with risky pregnancies together with obstetricians elsewhere in the state who specialize in such cases, even if they’re hundreds of miles away.

“The ultrasound is real time so you can do diagnostic work,” Fitzgerald said. “We plan to have that in all counties as soon as possible,” she said.

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