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TASS, September 14. The law on telemedicine, President Vladimir Putin inked in late July, will favor distance education for students and working doctors as well as experience exchange between regions, experts told TASS. The document, they said, will settle the problem of professional isolation of medics in far-away territories, including in the Arctic, and will make medical services easier to get there.
TASS wrote earlier that in an annual address to the Russian legislators Putin called wide implementation of telemedicine a healthcare priority for 2017. The law offers legal bases for use of information technologies in healthcare. The law comes into force from January 1, 2018.
In many Arctic regions specialists are offering tele-medical consultations, and the law, specialists say, will favor further active development of this direction. The healthcare department of the Nenets Autonomous District says every year people there receive more than 1,500 consultations of the kind, and every third patient lives in far-distanced settlements.
"Tele-medical complexes have been installed at 15 village clinics and obstetric care facilities, and this year, we shall equip additionally eight facilities," the department said. "The region plans working with natural resources’ companies to offer telemedicine consultations for their staff, working in shifts, and to use more actively the distance services for clinical evaluations of workers and of people living in distanced northern settlements and of reindeer herders."
The telemedicine experiment in Komi was positive, and now this experience will be implemented throughout the region, the republic’s head Sergei Gaplikov told TASS. "We have 300 villages getting to which is complicated. But with reliable Internet connection we may use local clinics to train specialists, to have consultations with regional and federal medical centers, to confirm whether a patient should be taken to hospital or whether a case could be treated without transportation," he said.
Healthcare Minister of the Arkhangelsk region Anton Karpunov says new technologies will offer additional high-level assistance regardless of patient’s location. The region registers every year more than 4,500 telemedicine consultations.
"Distanced villages, islands, low density of the population in the villages cause certain problems in development of information-based healthcare services in the region," the minister said. "We plan now connecting to high-speed communication channels of 111 medical units, and 85 location-based medical organizations have the communication already."
Another opportunity, which experts suggest using in implementation of telemedicine, is the experience exchange between regions. Vasily Seliverstov, an expert in veterinary at the Russian Ministry of Agriculture says the experience of effective coping with hazardous diseases, which Yamal obtained during the recent outbreak of anthrax, should be used throughout the Russian Arctic zone. Press service of Yamal’s governor says "the decision is to use most actively telemedicine’s options and other local resources for exchanging experience and skills."
The telemedicine network in the region is organized on the basis of the District’s healthcare department and its 27 organizations. The authorities forecast by December, 2018 the Internet connection will be provided at four hospitals in distanced regions, which now do not have well-developed reliable communication. "By using telemedicine, we solve the problem of staff shortage and offer remote follow-up for patients, the doctor’s cabinet becomes ‘virtual’, and doctors thus receive a wide range of instruments for remote interpretations of images," press service of the local branch of the Rostelecom communications company said.
The Nenets District uses actively foreign experience of telemedicine: in January the District launched a joint project with Norway on innovative approaches and technologies to improve life quality in the Extreme North.
"The Nenets medics have passed training in Norway. Besides, the region received telemedicine equipment, which cuts dramatically the distance between the doctor and patient. Those are mobile devices, which follow up patient’s conditions and doctors can see all the data online," the regional healthcare department said.
For example, a Cardiojet allows patients at any time record a cardiogram and have it forwarded to the doctor, who immediately may issue recommendations or call an ambulance service to the patient. "Another device is called Angioscan - it analyses the condition of vessels and predicts 5-6 years ahead the serious diseases like atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, or pre-stroke conditions," the healthcare department said. "Under the project, we shall also implement the Diabetes Diary application and will adapt it to the region’s conditions."
Experts say about the big opportunities telemedicine offers to doctors and to teachers of medical universities. Press service of Ryazan’s Medical University said the option of distance communication with specialists from leading medical centers settles the problem of professional isolation medical staff in small villages and towns are facing now.
"By using telemedicine, they attend video lectures, watch surgeries online, and this technology also offers options for tele-coaching, where teachers of medical universities may watch their graduates online and give practical advice thus following up beginning of work experience," the medial university said.
Healthcare ministry of the Krasnoyarsk territory says implementation of the law on telemedicine would require a few legal regulations. "In the Krasnoyarsk territory, with its vast territories and hundreds of distanced villages, with the huge Arctic territories, telemedicine has been developing for a few years now, thus, we do not have to organize the system from the very beginning, we just have to adapt the existing practices to the new circumstances," the ministry said.
TASS wrote earlier that the law on telemedicine will offer the Russians an option to receive legally consultations from doctors via the Internet. The document suggests organizing a state information system in healthcare to provide interaction of the existing system of medical institutions and state authorities, to provide electronic personal medical records, and registrars of patients suffering certain diseases.
The telemedicine technologies will be used for organization of consultations for remote interaction of doctors, of a doctor and patient or his/her authorized representative, as well as remote monitoring of a patient’s health conditions. Besides, doctors will be able to issue medical conclusions, prescriptions for medicines and medical devices both on paper and, should a patient agree, in the form of an e-document.