Introducing telemedicine into clinical practice has not been without difficulties. Within the framework of the European Union project "Health Optimum," telemedicine consultations with specialists at the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at Uppsala University Hospital (Uppsala, Sweden) have been offered to dentists in the public dental health service. The aim is to streamline the consultation process, improve/develop the skills of the participating dentists and dental hygienists, and save time and money for patients, healthcare authorities, and society.
Subjects and Methods:
Patient records are collected in a database for demonstration and discussion, and the system is also available for referrals. Both medical and dental photographs and x-rays are digitized in the same system. These can be viewed during telemedicine rounds and by the consultants at the hospital prior to a consultation. Secure, interactive conferencing software is used, which provides a quick, easy, and effective way to share video and data over the Internet. Both parties can demonstrate different parts of an image using a pointer or a drawing system. Conference phones are presently used for verbal communication.
Ten patients were discussed during telemedicine rounds (3 males and 7 females), all of whom would normally have been referred to a specialist. As a result of the telemedicine round, 2 were referred to a specialist, whereas diagnoses were made for the other 8, and treatment was suggested. The dental health clinic could thus provide treatment without the need for referral to a consultant.
The telemedicine system described here allows patient care to be provided rapidly and more economically. Future plans include "live" rounds using a videocamera, providing the possibility to relay real-time information about the intraoral situation. A camera is being developed and should preferably be permanently installed chair side.
2012. Vol. 18, no 7, 549-553 p.