Armenia Fund USA Forges Strategic Healthcare Partnerships aimed at Revolutionizing Healthcare Delivery in Armenia and Karabakh
Posted on August 18, 2010
By introducing the newly branded HyeBridge Telehealth© program in 2004 Armenia Fund USA significantly enhanced and modernized healthcare and medical education in Armenia and Karabakh.
Within its framework valuable specialty equipment and technology were donated directly to the designated recipients. This year alone, 22 computers, 2 Polycom videoconferencing units and other critical surgical supplies (a total value of $45,500) have been airlifted to HyeBridge sites through the generosity of United Armenian Fund, an indispensable player in bringing valuable specialty equipment and technology directly to the designated recipients.

Since 2004, Karabakh Telecom has been generously providing free, high-speed Internet access to the newly built Polyclinic in Stepanakert, connecting the biggest healthcare hub in Karabakh to the international medical community.

Telemedicine as a field is relatively new to the healthcare community. The tool has been widely utilized to overcome challenges of time and distance when it comes to prompt and precise medical diagnosis and information exchange. Through high-speed Internet access and a centrally controlled electronic communications database, medical and healthcare professionals are able to diagnose and treat critical conditions that sometimes require highly specialized experiential knowledge or expertise that is otherwise unavailable at a given place and point in time.

Having already invested in Karabakh’s healthcare system, Armenia Fund USA came up with the ambitious plan of making the Armine Pagoumian Polyclinic part of what is to become a nationwide network of electronic diagnosis and information sharing platform. An initial HyeBridge Telehealth center was established in Karabakh in 2005.

In 2009, Armenia Fund USA arranged for computers and additional equipment installation that would allow, via electronic telecommunications, the exchange of medical information between Armenia’s Yerevan State Medical University (YSMU) and medical professionals practicing in remote regions of Armenia and Karabakh. This past summer, Vanadzor Hospital #2 joined the HyeBridge Telehealth international community, becoming the fourth project site.

The undeniable success of the pilot session has convinced us that “telemedicine is an effective and cost-efficient driver of improved medical outcomes in Armenia,” as Irina Lazarian, Armenia Fund USA Executive Director, describes it.

This summer, videoconferencing equipment was installed at the Armenia Fund USA headquarters in lower Manhattan in preparation for a series of the telemedicine sessions and live consultations with Armenia from the Fund’s office to be transmitted in real time via the high-speed Internet connection.

“A number of Armenian-American medical specialists from the tri-state area have expressed interest in consulting on difficult-to-diagnose cases from remote areas of Armenia and Karabakh,” explains Ms. Lazarian. “We are very happy to facilitate this groundbreaking exchange between Armenian specialists here and abroad. It sets a good example of how professional counterparts from different perspectives can successfully collaborate.”

Under the HyeBridge Telehealth banner, a demonstration was presented in July 2009 at the 10th Annual Armenian Medical World Congress in New York City. Professional attendees gathered for a real-time telemedicine session transmitted from Hilton, New York. Four difficult patient cases were consulted with the use of the electronic technology and over 400 doctors and nurses from YSMU participated in the conference remotely.

The principal collaboration between the Armenia Fund USA Eastern region affiliate with YSMU and AAHPO doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists practicing in NY, NJ and CT, combines the world-class expertise of medical specialists in the U.S. with the vast field experience that Armenia Fund USA possesses in program implementation for Armenia and Karabakh.

“By forging strategic partnerships between medical professionals in the diaspora and Armenia, supported by technologies that facilitate the instant exchange of up-to-date information, Armenia Fund USA has solidified its role in helping to bring Armenian medical practices up to world-class standards,” stated Raffi Festekjian, chairman of Armenia Fund USA.