Bringing ideas and countries together with telehealth

IVUmed is invited—and invited back—by host countries that see us as long-term partners. To make the most of the interval between each hands-on surgical training workshop, we have increased our use of telehealth technology.

In partnership with the University of Utah, we have conducted a series of lectures and consultations with our colleagues in Rwanda. This allowed IVUmed volunteers to provide some initial training before hitting the ground in Kigali for their first on-site workshop.

IVUmed is currently working to increase access to this valuable technology among its partner sites and is developing a digital training platform that will combine videoconferencing, distance consultation, and content libraries. This software, developed by IBM and Boston Children’s Hospital, will make an entire digital learning package available to doctors and nurses in low resource—and importantly—low bandwidth areas of the world.

IVUmed partners around the globe wish to participate in this learning format. In fact, 93% of those surveyed stated that they are very interested in telehealth training in their facilities.

Through videoconferencing, online learning libraries, and remote consultation, our volunteers’ efforts have an even greater impact. They provide further education on concepts covered during workshops to maintain continuity and to prepare for further hands-on instruction. The technology also allows our volunteers to provide remote training in multiple countries at the same time.

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Cancer doesn’t hurt just the 20%

Dr. Eggener trains local physicians on urological oncology needs.

According to Reuters, “most of Africa’s around 2,000 languages have no word for cancer. The common perception in both developing and developed countries is that it’s a disease of the wealthy world, where high-fat, processed-food diets, alcohol, smoking and sedentary lifestyles fuel tumor growth.” However, according to the news service, sub-Saharan Africa will see an estimated one million new cancer cases this year — “a number predicted to double to two million a year in the next decade,” and, “[b]y 2030, according to predictions from the [WHO], 70 percent of the world’s cancer burden will be in poor countries.  Source

Cancers, including urological cancer, are not only a developed-world problem. An IVUmed board member, Scott Eggener, MD, is a urological oncologist based in Chicago who frequently travels to the West Bank to provide urological oncology training to local physicians.

However, the technologies needed to provide proper care of cancers are inaccessible to the developing world. The bioengineering and biotechnology fields in academic centers are acknowledging this large gap. Currently, several centers of innovation are working towards making proper medical care more accessible to the developing world.

To learn more about these innovations, you can check out several conferences on affordability and innovation in global health. Local to Utah, the Center for Global Surgery is hosting the  Extreme Affordability Conference  in late March 2013.

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A Dynamic Paradigm in Global Health and Surgery

Innovation, collaboration, sustainability were common themes of discussion at the first annual “Extreme Affordability: Innovative Solutions of Surgical Care” conference hosted by the Center for Global Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Focusing on providing affordable surgery globally, this conference called together surgeons, policy makers, bioengineers, anthropologists and non-governmental organization leaders to discuss the need and accessibility of surgical care to the international community.

Mark Harris, M.D., co-founder of the International Anesthesia Education Forum writes about his experience at the conference, “I am left with a sense of enthusiasm, optimism and community. There are so many people from different fields and countries collaborating and using innovative approaches to the myriad problems facing the low resource world.”

Speakers from around the world shared their perspectives on these current themes of global health and surgery. Keynote speaker, Clayton Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, discussed the decentralization of healthcare providers and technology to develop affordable and sustainable healthcare in resource-limited and rich settings. Christenson is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth.

With a pattern recognition-based concept, Christensen’s message was well-received by conference attendees.

“The speakers were thoughtful and captivating which was no small feat!” Rhiana Menen, resident with the East Bay Surgery Program at UCSF, commented. “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this wonderful conference. As someone early in my career but very much trying to incorporate an emphasis in global surgery, I now have a much better idea on how to proceed and have made some invaluable contacts.”

As one of the few non-governmental organizations presenting at the conference, IVUmed was able to share its perspective on global health. Josh Wood, executive director, provided an in-depth look at how to develop and sustain global partnerships for dynamic change in an economical and efficient manner.

During his presentation, Wood explains, “When you start to become aware of surgery, how much need there is and the potential we have to relieve that need, it may seem overwhelming; but there are extensive opportunities, especially if programs are carried out in a sustainable manner so we can get more bang for our buck.”

A staggering one million African infants are estimated to die in the first 4 weeks of life and there are only 24 urologists for the 9 million people living in Haiti. With these, and other outstanding statistics, the developed world recognizes a preventable epidemic. Through technology and innovative collaboration, these leaders are truly developing a paradigm shift in global health.

Discussing the role of surgery in global health, Steve Alder, Chief of the Division of Public Health at the University of Utah, comments, “You have to talk about the elephant in the room; is it the scalpel or the syringe?”

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IVUmed is committed to making quality urological care available to people worldwide.