MIT professor says healthcare needs international partnerships to improve telemedicine

Amar Gupta, PhD, a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, told WRVO that there is a practical use for telemedicine that many healthcare organizations haven't yet realized: a 24-hour "knowledge factory."

Dr. Gupta, who teaches a course on telemedicine at MIT, understands, first-hand, the struggle some patients experience when accessing healthcare. His wife recently broke both of her wrists but wasn't able to get surgery until 10 days later because the first private emergency room they were sent to operated a two-tier system in which it treats health system member patients first and transfers other patients elsewhere. Other nearby emergency rooms would not take her, and she was forced to fly home to Boston for care. 

He told WRVO that his wife — along with many others — could have benefitted from a national telemedicine program that would operate as a so-called "24-hour Knowledge Factory" where work would be passed along at the end of the day to other equivalent workers in different time zones. In healthcare, this might mean staffing a telemedicine network with physicians in America and in countries from the Southern Hemisphere, so care  is always available to millions of patients worldwide.

Dr. Gupta has already helped implement a similar program at Emory University in Atlanta, where he says the effort has been successfully operating on a national scale. Under the program at Emory, providers in Australia cover the night shifts of Emory's ICU.

"[Physicians are] able to offer better services," Dr. Gupta told WRVO. "They're able to have less stress. They enjoy the experience, and I think these kind of ways of doing telemedicine across state boundaries and national boundaries will become increasingly prevalent."

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