Remote consultations and HIV/AIDS continuing education in low-resource settings.

Zolfo M, Lynen L, Dierckx J, Colebunders R.

Int J Med Inform. 2006 Sep;75(9):633-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2006.03.002. Epub 2006 May 2.

BACKGROUND: Telemedicine is a way to support physicians working in resource-poor settings, providing remote consultations and continuing medical education on HIV/AIDS care. METHODS: A hybrid E-mail/web support telemedicine service was created in 2003 at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium, with a discussion forum hosting more than 170 healthcare professionals from 40 different countries, generally resource constrained. Interesting posts and recurring questions from this discussion forum have been elaborated as case studies or frequently asked questions, available on the website for consultation. Education and support are also provided through interactive quizzes, user-friendly guidelines, and policy documents with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS care in developing countries. RESULTS: From April 2003 to March 2005, 342 questions were sent from over 17 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. The vast majority of these questions (93%) were patient-oriented, with only 7% being general questions. Of the patient-oriented questions, 49% were related to antiretroviral therapy, and 44% were related to the diagnosis and treatment of opportunistic infections. CONCLUSIONS: Telemedicine is a cheap and effective method of providing clinical support and continuing education to healthcare workers treating HIV-positive patients in resource-poor settings.

PMID: 16647877

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.