Health Informatics News

Telemedicine in Prisons

Michale Ollove from The Pew Charitable Trusts, has written an interesting piece on how telemedicine is increasingly being used in prison to avoid prisoners having to visit hospitals and to try and save costs. The story beings with an alarming anecdote:

Texas prison psychiatrist Pradan Nathan recalls an unsettling face-to-face session with a dissatisfied patient about a dozen years ago at a maximum security prison in East Texas. The large man, a member of a notorious prison gang, insisted Nathan prescribe him a particular medication. Nathan said he didn’t need it.

“I’m going to stab you to death the next time you come in here,” the prisoner growled.

Nathan feels a lot safer these days. He sees up to 16 patients a day from a suburban Houston office here, using an audio console, a camera and a monitor to treat inmates at two state prisons — including one with a death row — at least 30 miles from where he sits. He’s still threatened occasionally, but now it’s from a comforting distance. Needless to say, he’s a big fan of telemedicine.

Read the rest of the piece here: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2016/01/21/state-prisons-turn-to-telemedicine-to-improve

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  • When I visited the University of South Florida a long time ago (perhaps 10 years) I remember that they had a similar system for prisoners being referred to their hospital. My memory is a bit sketchy, so I can't really give details, but I remember that one of the problems that this was solving was the expense and risk of escape during transport.
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