Telemedicine Expands Life-Saving Potential Worldwide

SADA Systems and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles join forces to help save infant eyesight with Microsoft technologies.

Improving capabilities with telehealth
Telemedicine is a burgeoning field whose fast expansion is due, in large part, to the creation of innovative technology and the willingness of organizations to develop cross-industry partnerships. When
SADA Systems, was approached by Dr. Thomas Lee from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles about supporting his medical work in Armenia, we jumped at the chance to learn more about the opportunity and his challenges.

Enabling Remote Healthcare Through Telemedicine

As the Director of The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute, Dr. Lee has spent the last seven years working with the Armenian EyeCare Project, whose mission is to eliminate preventable blindness in Armenia.

Dr. Lee traveled with a team of doctors to Armenia to assist the country’s surgeons in complex eye surgeries to correct a disease called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). The degenerative disease most commonly affects premature babies and can lead to severe vision impairment and blindness in children if left untreated. During their travels the need to expand and further train remote care teams became remarkably clear. Quite simply, there were not enough surgeons available with the specialized knowledge and training required to provide life-changing eye surgeries. To enable more treatment capabilities, and provide care to 1000+ infants and children, area surgeons needed to be trained to higher levels  of expertise in this medical specialty. Dr. Lee wanted to use technology to create the ability to virtually tunnel into an operating room in Yerevan, Armenia from a doctor’s office in Los Angeles, CA.

“Over the past seven years, we’ve really been leveraging technology and the internet to allow the Armenian physicians and nurses to develop their own native expertise. And each year that has gone by, we’ve increased and enhanced the level of expertise that we can deliver,” says Dr. Lee.

The need to be physically present in Armenia to instruct local physicians and doctors during the operations, combined with the urgent nature of the disease, translated into mounting travel costs, frequent time away from Dr. Lee’s own practice in LA, and worsening cases of Retinopathy in Armenian children as they waited for the doctor’s arrival.

Sight-saving surgeries for premature infants with certain retinal conditions require surgery within 48 hours of their birth. The lack of trained, available surgeons meant that these infants might miss their window of opportunity, thereby changing the course of their life forever.

Under current methodology, surgeons are trained through a direct apprentice approach in the same room, on the same patient. A full-time faculty member is needed, in person, for a substantial length of time. With a sense of expediency and urgency, and their drive to provide quality, specialty care to children who were needlessly going blind, Dr. Lee sought out alternatives to current training protocols. Under the traditional model, training surgeons was not only expensive, but also challenging to the time constraints and resources of the supervising doctors.

The Power of Interactive Telemedicine

Using interactive telemedicine, SADA was able to leverage Microsoft products to facilitate Dr. Lee’s life-changing medical vision and launch the company’s first major project in the field of telemedicine. Skype for Business allowed Dr. Lee to remotely train and advise Armenian surgeons on operations in real time. The digital solution considerably reduces travel time and travel costs and ensures that infants can receive these life-changing operations the exact moment that they need them. Access to medical care for children in a remote country is now more of a reality than it ever has been.

Saving eyesight with Skype for Business and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Featured at the Microsoft Inspire Conference Keynote, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and SADA Systems meet one of the families affected by eyesight saving surgery with telemedicine.

As time was of the essence, SADA’s team of consultants and technical experts set out to helped Dr. Lee and his medical peers in Armenia adopt Microsoft Office 365, including key applications like OneDrive and Skype for Business. Skype’s technology allows a visionary program to deliver state of the art medical care to children in a remote, developing country through video conferencing and content sharing capabilities. Using Skype for Business Online and Polycom videoconferencing endpoints, Dr. Lee can now view the actual surgery in real-time and communicate “Face to Face” with the surgical team. He does not have to travel across the world or take extended time away from his own practice. Instead, he’s able to share his expertise with doctors in Armenia without leaving his home state, or his hospital. In addition, the retina scan images and related diagnosis are hosted in OneDrive for Business, making it possible for doctors to collaborate and reference past surgeries for the purpose of further training.

“I realized that based on the training program that we deployed and the work that was ahead of us, we actually had the potential to alter the trajectory of an entire generation of children in Armenia who are at risk of going blind,” says Dr. Lee.

Microsoft’s revolutionary technology enhances the power of telemedicine, allowing medical professionals thousands of miles apart to virtually connect, communicate and collaborate using Skype for Business’ transformative platform to perform life-changing and life-saving medical work.

Innovative use of Microsoft technology tools allows care teams separated by thousands of miles to collaborate effectively and successfully. As a result, the ultimate goal of eliminating preventable blindness and making eye care accessible to all children can be realized. Highly specialized medical treatment can be accessible to remote care centers, in rural communities, in remote countries.

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If you’d  like to donate to CHLA and Dr. Lee’s mission to save children’s eyesight, please click here.

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