Professor Geissbuhler, can you describe yourself in a few sentences ?
After 20 years’ training as an internist, I have been developing and disseminating computing tools as telemedicine, enabling doctors and nurses to take better care of their patients. I am at present Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva, Chief physician of the Cyber Health and Telemedicine department of to the Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), and responsible for the partnership center of the World Health Organization for the cyber health.
You are at the forefront of telemedicine in Geneva, why are these tools important for the doctors with whom you collaborate abroad and their patients ?
Telemedicine consists in transferring some expertise, without having to move either the patient or the doctor. It breaks down the isolation of doctors working in remote regions of developing countries, by offering them the possibility of continuing their training, at a distance, without having to leave their hospital. It also gives them access to experts to with whom to discuss diagnoses and obtain assistance for difficult cases. Consequently, these doctors become more successful in their workplace and their patients have access to care of better quality. Within the framework of the RAFT project, there are several thousand professionals who now have access to these tools, in about twenty countries of Africa and Latin America, up to the African bush or the Andes.
You are adviser to the association 2nd Chance, what is the place of technology in their objectives? Isn’t humanitarianism first and foremost about the human being ?
Telemedicine is only a tool which can improve therapeutic actions on the spot. On no account can it replace the human relationship between doctor and patient, but it can, in many cases, make it more effective and safer. A telemedicine network, however technological it may be, relies principally on professionals who wish to collaborate and help each other. In the case of 2nd Chance, it aims at giving surgeons the opportunity to keep in touch, discuss difficult cases, and follow the evolution of treated patients. It allows everyone to contribute, to learn from the other participants and to optimize the activities of the association, all the year round, not only during missions on the spot.