Medical Missions for Children (MMC)

At a Glance

  • Rapid diagnosis by doctors across the world
  • Use of HD video allows medical specialists
  • Direct care given to more than 28,000
  • Improved pediatric care for children

HD Quality Telemedicine Allows Remote Specialists to Make Rapid, Accurate Diagnosis and Prescribe treatment

HD Quality telemedicine allows for remote medical specialists to make rapid, accurate diagnosis and prescribe life-saving treatment for children in Armenia.

For more than a decade, Polycom (through the Polycom Foundation) and Medical Missions for Children (MMC) have united to help doctors improve medical outcomes for critically-ill children throughout the world. The partnership has also narrowed the knowledge disparity that exists within the global healthcare community.

Now, Polycom is helping MMC expand its lifesaving telemedicine network to the struggling Eurasian nation of Armenia.  Through its network, MMC enables volunteer physicians in the United States to use the Polycom® RealPresence® Platform, and RealPresence video collaboration devices, to consult with peer physicians, examine patients, and offer treatment plans to children in Armenia.

The initiative to expand Polycom video collaboration to Armenia started with funds donated by the Richard D. Donchian Foundation. The foundation designated the funds toward improving patient care, and providing professional enrichment, for doctors responsible for the treatment of Armenian children.

Now, two Armenian telemedicine sites powered with Polycom HDX video systems connect with MMC's Telemedicine Outreach Program. MMC physicians with specialties in areas such as infectious diseases, cardiology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, oncology, neurology and nephrology consult remotely with more than 100 patients per year. (See the related video.)

"Polycom video technology is literally a lifeline for many critically ill children," says John Riehl, MMC president and chief operating officer. "Recently, we used the Polycom platform to connect a group of U.S.-based pediatric neurologists to Armenian physicians so they could confer about a four-year-old girl in Armenia who could not breathe on her own."

“After a telemedicine consultation, the U.S. doctors determined the girl had contracted a rare polyneuropathy called Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP). In just a few days after the diagnosis and treatment through MMC, the young girl was able to breathe on her own and today she is fully recovered."

One benefit of the RealPresence Platform is that it delivers secure video collaboration in whatever way works best for a customer – regardless of where the collaborators are (on the road, at home, at work, in conference rooms, or immersive theatres) or what device they want to use (smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, or office and room systems). The MMC Telemedicine Network runs on the RealPresence Platform, and connects Polycom video endpoints with medical devices such as remote stethoscopes, ophthalmoscopes, and otoscopes.

MMC records and archives each video consultation using Polycom's Video Content Management. MMC is now looking at Polycom RealPresence Mobile software to determine how the organization might employ tablet computing to help them quickly and flexibly reach even more locations.

"Recently, we had a telemedicine session with a two-year-old Armenian girl who was suffering from jaundice and an enlarged abdomen," says Dr. Lamacchia. "We conducted a consultation, during which we could view the young girl as if we were in the room with her and ask her more targeted questions. Together, we concluded that she had a rare autoimmune condition and liver fibrosis.

“The Polycom HD-quality video helped us make that diagnosis. Now the girl is improving. These cases make our work so rewarding, and as Polycom pushes its technology into the mobile space, we'll have even more of these success stories."

When healthcare organizations pair the Polycom RealPresence Platform with third-party telemedicine devices, they empower physicians to share the recording of an MRI exam, CT scan, PET scan or other HD multimedia content without any loss of video quality or detail. This feature just expands the resources MMC has available for diagnosing children in Armenia...and around the world.

Beyond Armenia, MMC physicians are working with tens of thousands of patients in more than 100 countries. They continue the vision of Frank Brady, who founded MMC in 1999 to respond to a global health care crisis that sees almost one third of those in poor nations with disease being children under the age of five.  Of the 11 million children under five who die each year, more than 85 percent are from medically underserved countries. That translates to 40,000 children dying each day.

But using a telemedicine network based on Polycom video collaboration systems, MMC has dramatically improved pediatric care for severely ill children in medically underserved areas.

"The ability to educate physicians regarding new medicines and procedures is creating a new paradigm for international pediatric medicine," says Brady. “So, too, is the ability to assist in effectively diagnosing and treating patients over great distances through face-to-face interaction and real-time data exchange.

“Our organization's goal is to help one million children by using the Global Telemedicine Teaching Network to speed the dissemination of medical knowledge all over the world."

Michael Lamacchia, MD, chairman of pediatrics, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, explains the power of video in medicine from the individual doctor's point of view.

"What I have found most impressive about participating in an MMC telemedicine session is the feeling that I am actually in the same room – and the same part of the world – as the doctor and patient with whom I am consulting. I am able to conduct an examination and actually listen to the heartbeat of a child who is 8,000 miles away, as if I were using my own stethoscope."

Now, thanks to Polycom, the physicians of MMC are just a “heartbeat” away from the children is Armenia who really need them.

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