To date that experience has been gained in the field of dermatology which is a very visual discipline. Electronic medical records are created by nurses working in the community and images of a patient's skin are incorporated in to the patient's electronic medical record using special cameras. The resultant record is then securely encrypted and transferred over the Internet to a medical specialist in another location to enable the specialist to assess and diagnose possible skin cancer and other skin conditions.
TDS, in the United Kingdom, has now established a sound client base and has contracts with primary care groups, hospital trusts and other organisations within the United Kingdom. The highly professional TDS service provides a cost effective way for care groups and trusts to respond to one of the government's key targets of reducing patient waiting times. TDS, having initially concentrated in the North Western area of England based around Manchester, now operates nationally in the United Kingdom.
The store and forward process can be accessed by the specialist at any time all in compliance with the new patient privacy regulations which will take effect in the United States on April 2003. Dermatology is not the only such visual medical speciality that can benefit from telemedicine.
Roger Coomber, company CEO reported: "The company has now embarked on the provision of diabetic retinopathy screening service using exactly the same proven telemedicine diagnostic service format to reach patient's with or at risk of diabetes."
Diabetic retinopaty is one method to assess and diagnose diabetes in which a medical specialist examines the retina of a patient's eye and measures the blood vessels contained on the surface of the retina. The problem has been that such specialists trained to interpret these images are few and typically located only in major urban teaching hospitals.
The company has demonstrated in the field that nurses trained in the company's telemedicine techniques can create the same electronic medical record with images of a patient's retina and securely encrypt such record and transfer it over the Internet to a diabetes specialist in another location and permit the specialist to assess and diagnose the presence or progression of diabetes.
The cost of undiagnosed and untreated diabetic complications is enormous and a simple cost effective screening programme that is mobile and can ensure equality of access irrespective of the location can save considerable funds for existing health care providers.
The demand for diabetic screening programmes exists throughout the world and in particular in both the United Kingdom and USA where the company intends to establish a significant market. Presently, the company is in active discussions with various insurance groups within the USA and with the National Health System in the United Kingdom to bring this capability to existing health care providers in the current calendar year 2003.
The company is engaged in the diagnostic telemedicine services business. Its wholly owned subsidiary tds (Telemedicine) Limited has been in operation in the United Kingdom since January 1998 and the company expects to commence operations in Texas in the first quarter of 2003.
The scenario in the United States is not dissimilar to the United Kingdom with an estimated 7 percent to 20 percent of all patients in the United States, as compared to 8 percent to 10 percent in the United Kingdom attending their primary care physician, are doing so as a first-time visit with a skin complaint. The United States service will be funded either by the Government, Insurance Companies who have now accepted the "store & forward" concept for reimbursement, Private Companies via their Occupational Health Schemes, or self-pay, in areas such as the Care of the Elderly.
TDS has developed relationships with the University of Texas, as well as with other dermatology specialists throughout the United States. The company is actively negotiating contracts at the moment and is anticipating to complete the work within these projects, in order to meet the deadline to commence operations in the first or second quarter of 2003.