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WHO doctor visits Las Cruces to tout benefits of telemedicine


Always reaching to make the lives of those dealing with medical problems more comfortable, various professionals from Las Cruces and El Paso involved in telemedicine gathered at Electronic Caregiver in Las Cruces on May 25.

Joining the local professionals was Professor Dr. Juergen Osterbrink, director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Nursing Research & Education at Paracelsus Medical University (PMU) in Salzburg Austria.

Osterbrink talked about processes happening in Europe as they explore the possibilities of telemedicine uses across the western world.

“Science has shown us that people die at home alone,” he said. “People died alone in nursing homes, died alone in hospitals and I think this is fundamentally unfair.”

That’s why Osterbrink created a palliative care research app with the collaboration of physicians, nurses and spiritual care professionals.

“These are the three groups who are responsible so that people in the last days of their lives are feeling competent and have the time to say goodbye,” he said.

Research Osterbrink and his team have been doing has the goal of bringing palliative care to the next level. The next level, he explained, means caregivers in hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient facilities have the possibility, via telecare, to make quality of life better in the days before death.

He used an example of a patient at home with a nurse. The nurse was able to use telecare, in contact with a doctor, to administer an injection in the right place to alleviate pain in the night. It is a huge advantage to be able to provide appropriate care when the doctor is 50 miles away.

“We have to work more and more, in my opinion, in telemedical care,” Osterbrink said.

Other projects his team has been working on across Europe include studying a recovery concept for patients facing hip and knee surgery using video interactive support before, immediately after and six months out after surgery. They are also looking at how patients with dementia are acting and reacting and examining the burden of caregivers and whether they are suffering from depression, high blood pressure or from diabetes based on their daily care-giving activities.

“It’s a psychological burden, a physical burden, a social burden, behavioral burden and the scientific evidence gives us the possibility to create models like Addison Care (Electronic Caregiver’s virtual assistant), that will give providers a more active role,” Osterbrink said.

The take-home message, Osterbrink said, is research development and education is key.

“(We need) intersectional, interprofessional care provision through telecare and everyday care support as well as diversification,” he said. “This will optimize health-care provision not only in rural areas but also in our cities.”