UPMC expands global reach by video
By Luis Fábregas
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 11:23 p.m.
UPMC's latest overseas project won't require anyone to get on an airplane.
Using video equipment to examine patients thousands of miles away, UPMC doctors will provide second opinions and consultations to counterparts in India and Afghanistan, officials will announce on Wednesday.
The project is part of UPMC's goal of spreading its brand overseas, to places including Ireland, where UPMC operates a cancer center, and Italy, where the health giant has a hospital.
“What you're seeing is the tip of the iceberg. More and more international delivery of medicine and medical care is going to take place with countries that need additional medical resources,” said Greg Billings, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law in Washington.
In India, UPMC physicians specializing in oncology, pulmonology and colorectal surgery will be available to consult within 48 hours, said Dr. Andrew Watson, chief medical information officer for UPMC's International and Commercial Services Division.
A separate agreement with Onsite Occupational Health and Safety Inc. will provide consultations to doctors in Afghanistan. Consultations will begin in March in dermatology, infectious disease, neurology and orthopedics.
Watson said medical experts from those countries reach out to UPMC because they are familiar with UPMC's hospitals and doctors. UPMC is fielding requests from Germany, Brazil, Israel and several other countries, he said.
“This is a world without boundaries, and that's what we're seeing,” Watson said. “The advent of telemedicine in a world without boundaries is no different than using Facebook or Skype around the world. We're just seeing this technology impact medicine.”
UPMC would not release financial terms of the deals, which include an agreement with a private company, TeleChikitsa Ventures, based in Bangalore in southern India.
Watson said UPMC doctors will be paid a flat fee for each consultation. Telemedicine services typically are not covered by insurance, but agreements with American hospitals are attractive to people because they cut the cost of travel.
“You can't palpate a patient, but watching somebody examine a patient is almost as good as examining a patient yourself,” Watson said.
Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, said more than 200 U.S. academic medical centers have telemedicine partnerships abroad. Some do it for charitable purposes and others start business ventures, he said.
“The amount of revenue being realized by medical centers is relatively small, but we're on the very beginning of what will be a huge jump in that,” Linkous said.
Telemedicine is widely used by community hospitals that lack specialty doctors. Allegheny General Hospital established a stroke telemedicine program three years ago to assist doctors in Allegheny Health Network hospitals. Within 15 minutes of taking a call, doctors can jump on a laptop to examine patients, review brain images in real time, counsel families and help doctors make treatment decisions, said Dr. Ashis Tayal, medical director for AGH's comprehensive stroke center.
“It has allowed us to make appropriate recommendations as to whether patients could stay at those community hospitals or benefit from a transfer,” he said.
UPMC's telemedicine division has agreements in China, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Colombia, Mexico, Ireland and Italy, officials said.
Luis Fábregas is Trib Total Media's medical editor. Reach him at 412-320-7998 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Harsh winter sets back Western Pa. maple harvest
- Diaper makers do due diligence
- CVS suit could be test case
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs
- ‘Boomerang’ buyers get another chance at homeownership
- Prepaid cards start to elbow aside bank accounts
- Real estate goes techno
- Lab develops sponges for oil spill cleanup
- Samsung introduces free streaming radio service
- Winter storms held back economic growth across U.S., Fed’s Beige Book survey reveals
- Employers nationwide added 175K jobs despite harsh weather