Editor’s note: Alena reviews the advances in the use of telemedicine in prisons and explains why special attention should be paid to security when developing and implementing telemedicine software. If you are interested in telemedicine technology, we invite you to consider the offer of ScienceSoft in the development of telemedicine applications.
14% of prisoners have high rates of seriousness psychological distress, compared to only 5% of the general U.S. population with similar sociodemographic characteristics. 44% of inmates have a chronic health status compared to 31% of the general U.S. population. These health problems require regular access to health professionals.
There are several models for providing traditional health care in prisons. Some prisons offer on-site primary care, others hire doctors who visit the prison on demand, some organize on-site health care provision. Sometimes, for example, in the case of serious health problems, the latter model may be the only option. At the same time, it presents the highest risks. For example, transporting sick patients for many hours can get worse their condition. Telemedicine can be the solution to these and other problems.
Doctor-patient communication and interactive video conferencing are the most in-demand telemedicine technologies in prisons. Through video conferencing, doctors can perform a remote examination of incarcerated patients, diagnose the disease, and prescribe treatment without face-to-face visits. Storage and forwarding (asynchronous) technology makes it possible to record, store, and send health data from incarcerated patients (e.g., photos of minor injuries, skin conditions) to medical professionals. Doctors analyze data obtained on the health status of a prisoner and recommend remote treatment, avoiding real-time interaction.
Note: Due to the exchange of confidential patient information, telemedicine software must be secure and comply with the Law of portability and liability of medical insurance (HIPAA).
Telemedicine provides inmates with timely and safe access to health care, helps minimize transportation costs to health centers, and keeps guards and medical staff safe. Let’s take a closer look at each of the benefits.
Security guards, medical staff and local community
Every month about 45,000 inmates come out of their prisons and interact with the public to receive health care. Although rare, several prisoners manage to escape attack its guards and medical staff. The use of audiovisual communication and storage and forwarding functionality allows inmates to remain in prison facilities and eliminate the likelihood of an escape or attack.
Reduction of transport costs and treatment of patients
In the Dueso prison (Spain), the average cost of telemedicine services it was € 1,196 per prisoner compared to € 1,774 of regular clinical practice from the start of treatment until recovery. When calculating average costs, direct (e.g., specialist consultations, testing, ultrasound / CT) and indirect (e.g., hospital transfer, expenses) were taken into account. of the security guards).
Improving the quality of medical care
Telemedicine can improve continuity i accessibility care and help inmates control, for example, mental disorders and chronic illnesses (e.g., cardiovascular conditions). In a to study of HIV-infected adults in prisons, 91% of inmates receiving telemedicine achieved complete viral suppression in the first six visits, compared with 59% of inmates receiving standard field care at the facility.
Telehealth technology facilitates communication between hospitals and prisons ’primary care units and the continuing education of primary care specialists. It results in better on-site medical care and improved outcomes.
Telemedicine also helps convicts after they are released from prison. It is being implemented in rehab centers and back home programs. This is especially important for patients who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder in custody. Once released, inmates often lose access to treatment and prescription drugs, putting them at greater risk for repetitive behavior.
The use of telemedicine allows inmates to receive timely health care through synchronous and asynchronous communication with the doctor, thus ensuring greater access to treatment and continuity of care without compromising public safety or increasing prison travel costs. If you need professional assistance in any aspect of the introduction of telemedicine technology, the ScienceSoft healthcare IT team will be happy to help you.
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