In West Virginia, a new online communications system will link Charleston Area Medical Center with more than 7,000 doctors around the state. The technology is called Mediasite, and it was developed by Wisconsin-based Sonic Foundry Inc, AP reports.
"This is about time-shifting, and not being required to herd large numbers of people into the same room," said Sonic Foundry vice president Erica St. Angel.
With Mediasite, anyone with a broadband connection can view lectures and seminars being conducted at CAMC. While the system has been used for doctor education in the past, CAMC is now opening the system to all users with broadband, which means that wellness lectures and especially information about diabetes and obesity can reach a wider audience.
"We can't always get the patient to us," said Doug Young, network media specialist at Charleston Area Medical Center. "We we're trying to do is get to them."
The first educational program in the new effort focuses on diabetes. West Virginians has the fourth-highest rate in the country, with 9.8% of the have been diagnosed with the illness, the fourth-highest rate in the country. Treatment is largely patient-based, so it's a good candidate for a distance education program.
"Diabetes is really controlled by the patient, rather than the health-care provider," he said. "The more someone knows about how to manage it, the better."
Of course, the system also is important for doctor education, especially for doctors tucked away in far reaches of the rural Appalachian state.
Dr. Robert B. Walker, the clinical director of Marshall University's Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health, says programs like the CAMC effort could help draw doctors to the state.
"Every one of these is a strike against isolation," he said. "There's less and less reason for people not to do full, satte-of-the-art rural medical practices."