Medicine in the future won’t be limited to the hospital setting. Emerging digital technologies are creating a field called telemedicine, which is helping bridge one of the largest gaps in healthcare today – access to high-level, specialized care for people who live in rural or remote areas.
To help accelerate this evolution, the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine will construct a medical education building on campus that will include a state-of-the-art telemedicine training center.
The $40.5 million, 65,000-square-foot building will be the hub of all educational activities for the more than 400 UC Irvine medical students, and it will be home to the innovative Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC). The School of Medicine will introduce the building with a groundbreaking ceremony 2:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the Irvine Hall courtyard. Speakers will include Chancellor Michael Drake and Dr. David N. Bailey, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
“This medical education building will play an important part in supporting new initiatives and technologies in teaching and healthcare delivery that will establish UC Irvine as a national leader in medical education,” Bailey said.
The centerpiece to the building will be its telemedicine facility, which will include a 60-seat interactive televideo center, a clinical simulation lab and clinical skills center. Students will utilize digitally controlled, full-body simulators in operating-room and trauma-room settings, and the televideo room will allow students to see medicine practiced at distant locations with real-time ability to communicate with clinical instructors.
These telemedicine facilities will aid healthcare delivery efforts to underserved agricultural and remote regions of California. The state’s wide geographical expanses and limited financial resources for comprehensive, specialized healthcare in certain areas, have made it difficult to deliver high-quality healthcare to all Californians. Telemedicine is allowing physicians to diagnose and treat patients hundreds of miles away who are unable to see specialists in person.
“Work in this new facility will focus on training the next generation of physicians to provide medical care when distance separates the doctor and the patient,” said Dr. Ira T. Lott, associate dean for telemedicine. “The technological resources available to the UC Irvine School of Medicine will help to promote optimal physician-to-patient interactions and to further this exciting, new area of healthcare.”
The University of California has implemented a broad spectrum of telemedicine, telehealth and e-health programs that enable patients throughout the state to receive direct clinical and specialty care without leaving their communities. These cutting-edge programs, including ones at UC Irvine, utilize UC research and expertise, and the latest in telecommunications technology to improve the access and cost-effectiveness.
Thirty-five million dollars in funding for the medical education building and its telemedicine center come from the Proposition 1D bond measure approved by California voters in November 2006. This measure included $200 million to expand UC’s medical schools and enhance telemedicine programs throughout the state.
As home to the innovative PRIME-LC, the medical building also will house affiliated faculty and facilities. PRIME-LC is a national model for providing healthcare to the growing Latino population. In response to an increasing need for highly qualified and culturally sensitive physician-leaders, PRIME-LC graduates will practice telemedicine to impact healthcare access as Latinos become the largest population group in California.
Along with its state-of-the-art technology, the medical education building is designed to be energy efficient and to be built with recycled materials. It will be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program.
The building will be located in the current Irvine Hall courtyard and is scheduled to be completed November 2009.
About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,800 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.
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