Now You Know

Phones for health
Thursday, February 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:12 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What’s new: Residents and doctors at University Hospital’s division of neurological surgery are using mobile picture phones to transmit images of X-rays, MRIs and computer axial tomography scans of patients to improve the speed and quality of diagnosis.

An informal study conducted by George Galvan, a third-year neurosurgery resident, and Michael Oh, an assistant professor, included more than 50 patients during six months whose examination by interns and residents was supervised by attending physicians through transmitted images.

Galvan’s research concluded that diagnoses made from phone images were identical to those made in the hospital room.

How it’s being done: Picture phones are provided to the resident on call, chief resident and attending physicians. When a scan is available to the resident, the image is transmitted in less than two minutes in high definition to a supervisor and, with some discussion, a diagnosis is made. The neurosurgery unit is also negotiating new software for transmission of images from computers to picture phones.

Why it matters: In 2003, restrictions were placed on the number of hours per week medical professionals could work. The limit of 80 hours per week often requires that interns from general surgery examine patients in neurosurgery. This also means that the chief resident and attending physicians can contribute their expertise from different parts of the hospital or from home through the use of picture phones. This technology, which increases resident supervision and patient safety, can also save patients time and money in getting second opinions.

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