2011 Archive

RuralConsult.com Receives US Patent

Union Hospital received a patent on a new telemedicine technology that will improve access to specialty healthcare in rural areas. RuralConsult.com is a store-and-forward telemedicine system that allows primary care providers to get second opinions from specialists regarding difficult cases.

The technology was invented by James Buechler, M.D., director emeritus of the Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health; Evan Farmer, former chairman of dermatology at Indiana University; and Todd Smaka, former technology associate at the Lugar Center.

"It was primarily developed to support rural providers who have less access to specialists than their urban counterparts," Dr. Buechler said. "Additionally rural patients often have less access to specialist physicians as well."

By consulting with a specialist via the web, the rural doctor can help the patient without the patient travelling long distances to a major city.

RuralConsult has been in operation for almost 10 years, but was only recently granted the patent for use. The system, initially developed through a grant from the federal office for the advancement of telehealth, was actually several years ahead of its time for telemedicine.

"In some ways, technology has only recently caught up with this concept," Dr. Buechler said.

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michelle-smith“Telemedicine has allowed our patients to receive the care they need right here in Sullivan, IN. In our current challenging economic times, the more dollars we are able to retain locally the better off our community will be.”

- Michelle Franklin, CEO
Sullivan County
Community Hospital