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Pittsburgh Specialists Mentor International Surgeons Remotely

July 31, 2012 | William Zimmerman

Telepresence Technology Allows Them to Walk colleagues Through New Procedures

July 30, 2012

By Susan D. Hall, FierceHealthIT via ISPR

A University of Pittsburgh Medical Center uses telepresence technology to provide live support for surgeons in other countries who have difficulty replicating complex new procedures.

Since 2005, its cranial base surgical team of three neurosurgeons and two otolaryngologists have trained more than 500 surgeons from more than 30 countries on treatment tumors and other conditions affecting the base of skull, nasal, and sinus areas, and some areas of the brain.

About 60 percent of those who come for a four-day course are international physicians, but once back home they often send emails seeking help, Carl Snyderman, M.D., one of the telementoring leaders, told Healthcare Informatics.

So the Pittsburgh team has twice walked other surgeons through procedures, the first last November with colleagues from the University of Maribor in Slovenia. In some of these countries, surgeons don't have enough cases requiring the new procedures to practice.

"Our goal is not to try to teach someone to land an airplane who's never flown an airplane before. ...we're trying to get them to the next level," Synderman told Healthcare Informatics.

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