First Armenian International Telemedicine Congress
Accomplished physician and philanthropist Dr. Pete Killcommons gave the keynote presentation at the First Armenian International Telemedicine Congress, speaking about the inherent challenges of expanding telemedicine practices in underserved areas of Afghanistan.
Telemedicine is a broad term that refers to the exchange of medical information through electronic communication. For example, this can mean video chatting between a general physician and a specialist, the exchange of x-rays, or even assistance in diagnosis, among other things. Though heavily reliant on current technology, telemedicine is indispensable to residents of rural areas who do not have easy access to health care.
The Congress, including 287 physicians, technology professionals, and students, allowed attendees to discuss the possibilities of future collaboration as telemedicine becomes increasingly available. While in Armenia, Dr. Peter Killcommons donated a web-based system to help Armenian medical practitioners in underserved areas.
Dr. Pete Killcommons has traveled internationally to donate time and resources to hospitals and medical personnel. He is the founder and CEO of Medweb, which provides a web-based platform to address telemedicine needs.
Fisher House Foundation
The founder and CEO of http://www.medweb.com, Peter Killcommons has created innovative telemedicine platforms that have been used in remote areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as in various United States military projects. Peter Killcommons supports a number of organizations dedicated to military service members, including the Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit that provides free or low-cost lodging to veterans and their families while they are receiving medical treatment.
Among the Fisher House Foundation’s various assistance programs is Hero Miles, a program that allows individual airline passengers to donate their frequent flyer miles. The program utilizes the miles to purchase round-trip airline tickets for wounded and ill service members who are undergoing treatment at a VA or military medical center, or those who are attending an authorized event.
Tickets may also be given to close friends and family members who are visiting military patients at authorized medical centers. The Hero Miles program works in partnership with major airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Airlines, US Airways, and United Airlines. Since its creation in 2005, the program has helped more than 46,000 wounded and ill service members and their families.
Hotels for Heroes
Dr. Peter “Pete” Killcommons has served as the chief executive officer of the medical software and device company Medweb. Under his guidance, Medweb has developed comprehensive disaster response and organized philanthropic initiatives. Dr. Peter Killcommons also personally contributes to multiples charitable nonprofits including the Fisher House Foundation.
The Fisher House Foundation is dedicated to providing free temporary lodging for families of active military personnel and military veterans who are being regionally treated for one or more medical conditions. The organization works through a network of 70 affiliated Fisher Houses that are located in or near military bases and VA medical centers.
The Fisher House Foundation also supports the military through auxiliary philanthropic programs such as Hotels for Heroes. Hotels for Heroes helps pay for hotel rooms for family members who do not find lodging in an official Fisher House. The program works through seven of America’s largest hotel chains to encourage hotel rewards members to donate their points to worthy recipients.
In late 2011, Medweb CEO Dr. Pete Killcommons appeared as keynote speaker at the First Armenian International Telemedicine Congress in Yerevan, Armenia. There, he spoke on the potential benefits of telemedicine to the citizens of Eastern Afghanistan. In addition, he donated a complete Medweb system to the country’s telemedicine association, to be used in care of rural and underserved communities.
Across the world, telemedicine has already proven invaluable in extending medical care to communities far from traditional hospitals. In India, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has set up a network that has connected specialists in 22 hospitals with doctors in 78 remote care centers across the country. These have already had a significant impact, including the facilitation of telesurgeries directed by expert specialist surgeons. The same organization has also set up telemedicine centers in rural villages, which strive to support primary and ophthalmology care.
Tens of thousands of patients have already been served by this and similar systems. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated significant cost savings in the use of telemedicine, which relieves patients and families from the need to travel great distances for care. As the technology becomes more advanced, developments such as telediagnostics and monitoring of care will likely increase the efficacy of telemedicine as a whole.