Fans of the Fox TV drama “House,” now in its final season, may wonder why New Jersey isn’t known as The Mysterious Medical Maladies State — it seems everyone who lives there has one.
Fortunately, they also have the fictional Dr. Gregory House, who makes up in diagnostic acumen what he lacks in charm and bedside manner.
Hugh Laurie’s acting talent isn’t the only reason the 2012 Guinness Book of Records ranks “House” the world’s most popular TV show. It’s as much because the premise is all too real, says Sean Belanger, CEO of CSDVRS, a national video relay services provider for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
“Many illnesses defy diagnosis and ingenious specialists are few and far between,” he says. “Which is why recent technological advances in video conferencing are so exciting. Telemedicine is not just about more convenient meetings – it’s about saving lives.”
Belanger’s corporation launched Stratus Video (www.stratusvideo.com) last year to focus on honing that technology. He understands the life-changing potential of high-quality, on-demand video conferencing – his company provides video-relayed deaf interpreting services to government agencies and businesses across the country, including the Social Security Administration, Boeing Corp. and Wal-Mart.
“On-demand, high-definition mobile video conferencing solves life-or-death problems, like the hospital patient in Georgia who needs to be seen by the specialist at the Mayo Clinic – fast,” Belanger says. “To that end, we support video technology today for American Sign Language and Spanish, and provide language interpretation access for more than 180 spoken languages, all on a mobile device.”
Telemedicine is also used to bring doctors to far-flung rural communities; save travel time and money on consultations and team problem-solving; and even to have more experienced medical professionals offering guidance and instruction during procedures.
Observation and reliable connections are critical when video conferencing is used in these ways, Belanger notes. So continuing to refine and improve the tools will have far-reaching – and very personal – effects.
“Think about what happens when you go to the doctor. He or she looks down your throat, into your eyes and ears. What they see there gives them information about what’s wrong with you,” he says. “The better the video relay system, the more reliable and trusted telemedicine becomes and, who knows?, that could even lead to lower health insurance premiums.”
At the least, it ensures patients get all the medical whiz genius of a Gregory House – without the snark.
“Hey, with video conferencing,” Belanger says, “just hang up on him.”