Benefits and Future Potential

Both telementoring and remote telepresence surgery offer tremendous potential to enhance the quality of surgical care offered to patients in rural or remote areas. At the current time, access to advanced laparoscopic procedures requires transfer to a distant

Telementoring and remote telepresence surgery also have the potential to provide novice laparoscopic surgeons with a convenient and efficient means of safely gaining experience in minimally invasive techniques.

urban center. However, remote telesurgery enables these patients to remain in their community under the care of their local surgeon, yet have their procedure mentored or even performed by an expert surgeon at a distant teaching hospital. Creation of extensive remote telesurgery networks has the potential to reverse the recent trend toward centralization of advanced surgical care and to offer an improved level of care to patients in traditionally under serviced regions. As the technology develops further, it may be possible for an expert surgeon to guide a nonsurgeon through emergency surgical techniques in order to save the life of patients in remote areas with no immediate access to advanced medical care.

Telementoring and remote telepresence surgery also have the potential to provide novice laparoscopic surgeons with a convenient and efficient means of safely gaining experience in minimally invasive techniques.

At present, it is especially difficult for community surgeons to access the advice and instruction of expert surgeons, and this limitation has seriously impeded the widespread adoption of laparoscopic techniques. Utilizing remote telepresence technology, even surgeons in remote areas can benefit from the support of a distant expert surgeon and can confidently offer advanced laparoscopic procedures to their patients without the high complication rates that usually accompany the learning curve for such procedures. Telepresence surgery can also permit experienced surgeons to collaborate, thus encouraging the development of new surgical techniques and enhancing the quality of surgery during technically challenging procedures.

The speed with which these new technologies are adopted will depend on their demonstrated ability to address the needs of the surgical community. Also, a number of obstacles including medicolegal responsibilities and licensing issues need to be addressed before the majority of surgeons would be willing and able to utilize these services on a regular basis.

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