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November 17, 1978

Medical communication via satellite

JAMA. 1978;240(21):2239-2240. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290210021005

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Obtaining consultation can be a major problem for physicians working in an area with 22% of the US land mass, five time zones, and less than 5% of the population.

Cable television communication has been used in some portions of the nation, but since that method relies on radio waves, broadcasting is impossible in much of the Far West when inclement weather or mountain ranges intervene.

The answer may lie partly in the satellite communication and television broadcasting headquartered at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Since 1974 the university, which has the only medical school in the states of Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WAMI), has conducted more than 350 broadcasts designed to test the feasibility of transmitting biomedical information, including continuing medical education courses, via satellite.

Lack of specialists is a common type of problem that has been tackled. For example, at one point there was no dermatologist