Telemedicine is the implementation of a remarkable new healthcare delivery system that utilizes telecommunications technology to conduct medical diagnoses, consultations, treatments, transfers of data, education, and dissemination of public health alerts and/or emergency updates. Patients living in under-served and under-privileged areas, two groups that are especially vulnerable to inadequate healthcare, can greatly benefit from the utilization of telemedicine.
Some of the potential benefits of telemedicine can be summarized as follows:
Access: Telemedicine can provide and improve access to health care in previously un-served or under-privileged areas, both urban and rural.
Quality: Telemedicine permits consultations to take place among the referring physician, the consulting
physician, the patient, and the patient's family through interactive video and medical equipment and
instruments with the added benefit of having critical patient information available on-line. Additionally, the
physicians or other personnel at remote or under-served locations can be educated during the consultations
with specialty physicians and other experts, increasing their ability to treat other similar cases in the future.
Cost: The travel cost of the patients for specialty care, the travel cost of the health care professionals for
continuing education or consultation, the personnel / equipment cost for not having to keep specialty care
facility in rural or under-served hospitals, and other costs can be either eliminated or reduced.
The following is an example of how telemedicine can be applied to significantly improve the quality of life for a patient in need. A young impoverished girl, who lives with her family in a small rural area within Russia, is experiencing severe flu like symptoms. Her parents take her to a local healthcare provider (e.g., a general practice physician, nurse practitioner, or unlicensed health worker) who conducts an examination and is concerned with what he sees. The provider recommends a referral to a specialist for a follow up diagnosis and treatment plan. Instead of traveling to the nearest specialist, which might take several days and result in significant expense, the provider connects the patient directly to a specialist in the United States via telemedicine technology.
Healthy Eating & Active Living
Experts and physicians overwhelmingly agree that obesity has now reached epidemic proportions nationwide. It is now considered to be society's greatest threat to health. Most severely afflicted are communities that face social and financial inequities. Obesity and its associated complications, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis, sleep disorders, cancers, depression, and other mental health problems, deprive under-served and under-privileged families of opportunities, their livelihood and well-being.
Unhealthy eating and inactivity is often the result of environmental circumstances. Public schools in low income areas often offer their students only high-calorie drinks and high-fat snacks with no available healthy alternatives, physical education is inadequate or nonexistent, and product marketing and advertising entices children into poor eating habits. Many minority and impoverished communities lack safe sidewalks, parks and recreational areas, or markets that offer fresh and healthy food. Given the situation in these neglected neighborhoods, it is no surprise that the childhood obesity crisis is continuing to worsen.
Healthy Eating & Active Living is the Jennifer Lopez Foundation's prevention-oriented initiative that seeks to significantly and measurably improve the health and well being of communities utilizing behavioral, public policy and environmental change strategies that will enhance or create access to affordable, healthy foods, physical activity, and healthy lifestyle choices. In effort to achieve maximum impact, the Foundation's initiative will focus its efforts on several key areas: schools, after school programs, neighborhoods, marketing and advertising, and health care.