OSU Physicians Use Telemedicine To Help Iraqi Kids

Wednesday, July 21st 2010, 1:26 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Doctors at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences  in Tulsa are using telemedicine to help children in Iraq.

As one Iraqi doctor put it, Iraq is more like a seventh-world country, not just a third-world nation.

But interaction between Baghdad and Tulsa could make a difference and an investment serving rural Oklahomans is making it all possible.

The people you see and hear on a video screen interacting with doctors from OSU's Center for Health Sciences are doctors at Iraq's second largest hospital.

The video meeting is the first run of a new plan that could help save the lives of Iraqi children.

"These kids do not get adequate health care from what I understand," Dr. Stanley Grogg said.

OSU's Center for Health Services in Tulsa is using telemedicine to consult with Iraqi doctors caring for children at a 655-bed hospital, sharing ideas and expertise that isn't often available in the war torn country.

"A lot of times when one doctor is trying to make a decision it is difficult, but you can bring in somebody else and say hey what do you think too," said Dr. Christine Clary. "And it's just kind of allowing that teamwork philosophy to expand for patient care there too."

A visiting associate professor at OSU's medical school, now working with the state department in Baghdad, came up with the idea.

Infrastructure already in place to help rural Oklahomans is making it happen. OSU already operates 24 telemedicine sites in rural, underserved parts of the state, linking patients and doctors with specialists in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Doctors figured if it could help 100 miles away, it could work 7,000 miles away.

"The same exact technology, just taking it a step further," Dr Clary said.

The plan is to hold the video consultations between Tulsa and Iraq each week, with the hopes of one day expanding it to other Iraqi hospitals.

"This is an adventure to see how we can help the world," Dr. Grogg said.

In addition to the video link, a high-speed Internet connection will allow doctors and technicians in Iraq to send medical records, charts and x-rays back and forth to Tulsa for doctors here to take a look.