The year is 2007.

by Dee MGonigle

A 10 year-old client, Andriah Doe, enters the HTL (high tech lab), formerly known as a doctor's office in the not so distant past. She is suffering from an inflamed rash. None of the healthcare providers at the lab have seen anything like this before and decide to get a telehealth consult. Andriah steps into an audio-visual booth with her mother and a handheld computer. The images of her rash are transmitted synchronously as well as asynchronously to 30 of the top dermatologists from around the world. Several ask Andriah and her mother questions. Others tune in and out. At the end of the session, Andriah and her mother return to their pod while her physician and the synchronous physicians get together to discuss her diagnosis and treatment regimen. The robot comes to retrieve the pharmaceutical order and promptly returns with the appropriate medication. The robot provides handouts and a telehealth equipped PDA for their use during the treatment. The treatment team will continue to research and collaborate with the synchronous and asynchronous experts to verify and modify the treatment regimen. They will access the diagnostic repository's clinical decision support system.

In the next treatment pod is a 32 year-old client, Jane Doe. Her GI complaint is followed up with a diagnostic camera in a capsule. The nurse clips the pen-sized receiver to her lapel to receive the images generated from the swallowed camera. She's good to go. Jane can carry on her activities of daily living while she is being examined. The receiver will download the images to the HTL diagnostic repository immediately after the camera completes its task. The diagnostic repository was developed by a team of medical and nursing informaticists using standard terminologies and protocols. Since all of the material collected is aggregated into the international diagnostic repository to form the foundation of the clinical decision support system, the case notes and images will be compiled, analyzed and synthesized using the latest information from around the globe. Nursing and medical researchers can also access the aggregated data.

In the last treatment pod is an 80 year-old man, John Doe. He was implanted with a GPS locator so his movements can be monitored and he can be located. The all important breadcrumb feature allows his sister to enter his schedule, track his movements and know he has arrived safely when he sets out on his own. The nurse checks his GPS locator and verifies his arrival. John has Alzheimer's disease and has been implanted with bionic neurons. He is involved in a study to assess the movements and activities of impaired clients undergoing treatment. Everything that is available to him in his home has been tagged with RFID tags. These tags contain computer chips to identify the item tagged and a radio antenna that transmits a tracking signal. This information is also transmitted into the repository.

Informatics and technology continue to evolve. If you have any comments or another pod story, please send it to me, Dee McGonigle .