The days when a country doctor hitched up a draft horse to a carriage to rush off in the snowy night to respond to a medical emergency are behind us. Now we have first responders and telemedicine. We’ve written about the HiRO telemedicine disaster drones that deliver communications and medical equipment and supplies to remote emergency sites and Woundmatic’s telemedicine wound care program.

Mobile telemedicine solution provider swyMed, headquartered in The Netherlands with a U.S. base in Lexington, Massachusetts, has programs for emergency services, hospitals and clinics, and post-discharge hospital patients.  Microsoft and swyMed have partnered on a project using Microsoft Surface hardware to connect remote patients with specialists. SwyMed recently introduced the DOT Telemedicine Backpack to give mobile care providers  a way to connect with doctors “anywhere, anytime.”  Referring to the DOT backpack as a “Doc-on-Tap,” the portable system has the equipment and communications to transmit high-quality video via cellular or satellite services, even with poor connections and minimal bandwidth. The DOT has redundant dual modems, antennas, a 15-hour battery, integrated speaker/microphone, two digital scopes, and a ruggedized, sunlight-readable tablet with a full HD camera. According to  swyMed, the backpack has an intuitive interface, is fully secure, and has “unparalleled interoperability  with existing EMRs, PACS, and certified third-party diagnostic equipment.”

If the DOT Telemedicine Backpack follows the technology arc modeled by portable computers and cellular and satellite phones, we may see gradual reductions in size with concurrent improvements in features, applications, and performance characteristics. Until we all wear fully functional medical interface appliances on our wrists or hanging on chains around our necks, however, the DOT backpack is a good start. Plus when the emergency is over, you don’t have to put it in a barn, dry it off, brush it, and give it hay and water.