The same technology used to monitor the vital signs of climbers ascending Mt. Everest also could be utilized by physicians to keep watch over patients when the patients are home, according to a study by a Yale researcher and collaborators.
"The mountain served as an extreme testing ground for telemedicine," said Richard Satava, M.D., professor of surgery and gastroenterology at Yale School of Medicine and an investigator in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration project on Mt. Everest. "The lessons learned further clarify the ability to provide better health care in remote and extreme environments, which for some may even be their home environment during or after a medical illness."
The Yale-NASA Commercial Space Center, known as the Medical Informatics and Technology Applications Consortium, organized Mt. Everest Extreme Expeditions in 1998 and 1999 during the spring Himalayan climbing seasons. Members of the team included Satava, other physicians based at Yale at the time, as well as other researchers.
The primary mission, according to two articles published in the current issue of the Telemedicine Journal and e-Health, was to deliver advanced medical support with global telemedicine capabilities to one of the worlds most remote and hostile settings. The team provided medical care for the Everest Base Camp community, conducted validation experiments for several types of advanced medical technologies, and performed real time monitoring of selected climbers while assessing the basic science of altitude physiology.
A group of 15 physicians, climbers and scientists traveled to Katmandu, Nepal and were then shuttled by aircraft to the village of Lukla. From there the team undertook a 10-day trek to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest. The team then lived and worked at Everest Base Camp, 17,500 feet above sea level, for about three weeks.
While there, telemedicine connections brought high resolution images, realtime interactive video, and
Contact: Jacqueline Weaver