Pundits often look to the Big Stuff, the large-scale stories, to explain why access to modern fiber broadband infrastructure is so important to the quality of our lives. But we should not overlook the overall combined impact of “the little stuff” where this fiber infrastructure really makes a difference. Little stuff, like the impact of facilitated telemedicine on young parents and the real little stuff – their new born baby — as told by a pediatrician from Westminster, Maryland. Westminster is a municipality which has recently engaged in an innovative public private partnership to get fiber to everyone in its community of 18,000. Our thanks to Chris Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, for permission to print.
Robert Wack, Westminster Council President and pediatrician:
A wonderful anecdote for why telemedicine is so important…
“So I work in a pediatric emergency department in Frederick, Maryland which is in one of the towns next over, a pretty large community that has a community hospital, and we have a relationship with Children’s Hospital down in Washington, DC to provide pediatric cardiological telemedicine services, specifically echocardiograms, which are ultrasounds of the heart. So one evening, a Sunday evening, a local pediatrician had seen an infant in his office and was concerned that there might be a serious heart problem. And so he sent the baby over to us at the emergency department and we called Childrens Hospital and set up this remote echocardiogram technology that we have — it transmits enormous amounts of data. And the pediatric echo cardiologist at Childrens Hospital sits and does the echocardiogram with our technician here in Frederick–we are about 50 miles apart — and he in real time is watching the study and is talking with me, the tech and the parents who are sitting in the room and can see everything — they can see the cardiologist on the screen, they can see the echo on the screen, so they can actually see their child’s heart while they are doing the study. And so in this particular instance, the tech did the study, the cardiologist read the study– and this is Sunday night keep in mind — and at the end of it the cardiologist was able to say “You know what, this is not a big deal. The baby does not need to come down to D.C. They can go home and we will follow this up as an out patient. Just a couple years ago, I would have had to transfer that baby down to Childrens Hospital. The parents would have had to drive down on a Sunday night. They would not have been really seen until the next day. It would have been a separate hospital admission. Alot of inconvenience and worry for the parents. And today, we were able to ask the questions, answer the questions, and get that family back home and back into their beds. To use that technology, that is requiring leased lines. That is very expensive. If you have ubiquitous affordable broadband, those are kind of things become much more available to help push high end services, medical services, deeper out into the public.”