Psychiatrist Antony Joseph looked carefully over an inmate at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail, to determine if the medicine he recently prescribed was working, but the inmate was miles away, reports the Associated Press. The patient, who was taking medicine for schizophrenia, spoke with Joseph from a room at the jail using a videoconferencing system known as telemedicine. Joseph can operate a small camera mounted on the television monitor and zoom in on a patient to look for signs that tell whether a prescribed medication is working.
Every Thursday, Joseph sees about 20 patients at two jails in without ever leaving his Richmond, Va., office. The jails have been equipped for telemedicine for less than two months, and are the first in Virginia to use the system. It is especially useful in remote areas, said Dr. Kaveh Ofogh of the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority. Having the system allows Ofogh to choose from the best psychiatrists, no matter where they are. Time is a factor in expanding the search beyond Southwest Virginia, where scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist could take months. “We can reduce the cost of patient transportation, there’s less waiting time and we can improve the quality of the care,” he said.