Healthcare could be going high-tech

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Getting to a hospital when it's a life-or-death situation for some in rural areas is difficult. But, a piece of technology is trying to change those scenarios and it's saving people's lives.

One senator toured hospitals and saw the technology. He says it can be taken one step further.

Teleheath is like Facetime or Skype with your doctor. While it's saving people hours of travel time to get their care, high-speed internet in rural areas is another barrier the state wants to tackle.

"I want you to take one of your arms and point it up at the ceiling."

It might not look like your typical doctor visit, but for someone living in a rural community, it's signs and symptoms this doctor can catch which can save your life.

"You don't have the expertise in some of our smaller communities and now you do. With the push of a button, a neurologist can beam in from miles, if not a different state, to look at them and evaluate them."

82 of 102 counties are classified as rural or partially rural. It means thousands of people typically have to travel hours for specialty care.

"To drive two hours to get critical healthcare and that shouldn't happen."

"Specifically, for strokes, people who do not get appropriate treatment quickly enough have a worse outcome then higher rate of death."

But, with expanding Telehealth networks, more people won't have to step on the gas. With 26 healthcare facilities on board, more people can visit their doctor with the click of a button.

"There is an upfront cost, but the cost down the road you have to look at, so the patient, that to get him back to work, he no longer has to spend time in a nursing home. He's now a productive member of society. You have to look at those global costs."

One challenge ahead is getting the technology to more people. In order to do that, the network needs high-speed internet, but not the kind you use at  home.

"I think we have to relieve some regulatory hurdles for telemedicine. That's what I heard here today. I think there is any number of things that could come out of this conversation that could lead to legislation."

Another challenge is storing patient information after the web chat.


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