Telemedicine

Today, a doctor in a small, isolated village in Latin America can be assisted in real time by doctors hundreds of miles away via satellite communication. With telemedicine, geographical isolation need not impede the quality of medical services provided. Advances in telemedicine are helping to ensure that modern medical treatment and advice is readily available to people in remote settings, increasing people's quality of life, as well as allowing complex life saving procedures to be carried out far from the nearest city.

Telemedicine brings medical experts and specialists into virtual contact with patients in remote and rural areas, thus avoiding a costly and lengthy relocation to hospitals in urban areas, which could prove detrimental to the patients' health. Telemedicine provides more relief from sickness and prevention of ill-health and can also help to remove the digtial divide - by providing good training to doctors and health-care workers ensuring that skills can be built and improved upon even the most remote areas.

The advantages that satellite communications can bring to telemedicine include instant access to broadband services, particularly in remote areas where telecommunications are poor or non-existent and during the need for swift responses in disaster situations, where speed is vital.

Telemedicine is a satellite service that is particularly well-suited to the countries of Latin America, whose rural areas are difficult to reach and are underserved by health care services. Satellites play an important role in many of the most ambitious telemedicine endeavours serving as a powerful, and relatively inexpensive, tool, particularly for video links between multiple users. With costs still decreasing, telemedicine will increasingly become a solution available wherever it is needed rather than just serving the most remote and the most needy.

Yet, satellite technology does not just help those in rural areas. Telemedicine is also being used to help provide access to training and other medical services to doctors and health-care workers in both urban areas, allowing specialists to be trained via satellite link rather than the expensive process of moving the human capital away from where it is needed for many years to allow them to gain new expertise.