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Telemed J E Health. 2017 Dec 12. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2017.0130. [Epub ahead of print]

Design and Technical Validation of a Telemedicine Service for Rural Healthcare in Ecuador.

Author information

1
1 Biomedical Engineering and Telemedicine Group, Biomedical Technology Centre CTB, ETSI Telecomunicación, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid , Madrid, Spain .
2
2 Department of Health Sciences, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL) , Loja, Ecuador .
3
3 Research Group in Telecommunications Systems, GISTEL, Universidad Politécnica Salesiana , Guayaquil, Ecuador .
4
4 Department of Oncology, Hospital Eugenio Espejo , Quito, Ecuador .

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Telemedicine is becoming increasingly important in Ecuador, especially in areas such as rural primary healthcare and medical education. Rural telemedicine programs in the country need to be strengthened by means of a technological platform adapted to local surroundings and offering advantages such as access to specialized care, continuing education, and so on, combined with modest investment requirements.

INTRODUCTION:

This present article presents the design of a Telemedicine Platform (TMP) for rural healthcare services in Ecuador and a preliminary technical validation with medical students and teachers.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

An initial field study was designed to capture the requirements of the TMP. In a second phase, the TMP was validated in an academic environment along three consecutive academic courses. Assessment was by means of user polls and analyzing user interactions as registered automatically by the platform. The TMP was developed using Web-based technology and open code software.

RESULTS:

One hundred twenty-four students and 6 specialized faculty members participated in the study, conducting a total of 262 teleconsultations of clinical cases and 226 responses, respectively.

CONCLUSION:

The validation results show that the TMP is a useful communication tool for the documentation and discussion of clinical cases. Moreover, its usage may be recommended as a teaching methodology, to strengthen the skills of medical undergraduates. The results indicate that implementing the system in rural healthcare services in Ecuador would be feasible.

KEYWORDS:

medical internship; open source; rural healthcare; teleconsultation service; telemedicine; web-based technology

PMID:
29232182
DOI:
10.1089/tmj.2017.0130
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