Sports Medicine Turns to Telemedicine
"The communication is far more consistent," Williams says. "We don't have to rely on just sending pieces of paper saying yes he's cleared, or no he's not cleared."
Teams working with doctors also now have a far more consistent approach to their players being returned to play, with consistent evaluation and management, Williams says. It also helps neurologists schedule these followups more efficiently as well.
Of course, once a platform like this is in place, it has benefits that go far beyond concussion treatment. "We can clearly see benefits where an athlete may have a good trainer on the other end where they're actually competing and participating and practicing," Williams says.
"That trainer may have a question about range of motion or an ankle injury or what have you, and they can fire up that videoconference and speak directly with an expert, and say, 'hey here's what's going on, here's what his exam looks like, what do you think? Should he come in? Does he need an X-ray? Does he need an MRI? Should we advance his therapy or his activity level another step?' So it is I think a great tool for improving communication and improving consistent and efficient evaluation and management."
A big enabler of all this has been the plummeting cost of those telemedicine towers, which in the past three years have plunged from a cost of $15,000 to something equivalent to a tablet with its ever-sharper display and built-in camera, and HIPAA-compliant software to ensure privacy, Williams says.
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