An innovative new system that connects doctors in poorer countries to medical specialists from around the world via the Internet is to be put into place nationwide, according to the Ministry of Health and the NGO Medicorps.
Telemedicine allows practitioners in Cambodia to send a full report with pictures on complex cases to volunteer specialists abroad, who then advise them on treatment plans without having to see the patient in person.
A seminar being run by Medicorps in conjunction with the Ministry of Health in Siem Reap town is giving a foundation on the technology to 22 doctors, an initial step in a long-term plan to provide 82 hospitals in the country with a telemedicine center.
According to Medicorps Director Dr Gunther Hintz, the nationwide use of telemedicine could radically improve the quality and range of treatment patients get here.
“In less developed countries, the lack of basic medical attention means the problems which present are often complex and require specialist care, which there is a complete lack of in Cambodia,” he said.
“With this, the physician on the other end can have the exact same information as the doctor on the ground,” Hintz added.
National Director of Healthcare at the Ministry for Health Tep Lun said the government was fully behind the project but needed partners to fund its implementation.
“This can be an important part of the government strategy to improve the quality of health care in Cambodia,” he added.
Medicorps Country Director Laurent Lek said at least 30 top experts on pediatrics, cancer, lung disease and trauma care from the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Hawaii would be available to Cambodian doctors initially, and other facilities would be added later to give access to a larger pool of specialists.
He estimated that an initial three-year program in 30 hospitals throughout the country could cost about $1 million.