Virtual Medical Visits: NASA Has Played Significant Role in Development of Telemedicine Since 1970s
By Space Coast Daily // April 13, 2020
the highly infectious coronavirus has greatly stressed health care systems
(NASA) – The highly infectious coronavirus has greatly stressed health care systems and entire nations around the globe and NASA has played a significant role in the development of telemedicine – not just for remotely monitoring the health of astronauts in space, but also for some surprising applications on Earth.
One tool that can help with potential overcrowding and resource scarcity is telemedicine.
In the early 1970s, NASA partnered with the Papago (now Tohono O’odham) Nation of southern Arizona to establish the Space Technology Applied to the Rural Papago Advanced Health Care (STARPAHC) project.
This effort proved to be an important step in developing the techniques needed to deliver health care in remote locations.
As NASA further developed these technologies, they were also applied to a variety of crisis situations, including major earthquakes in Mexico City in 1985 and Soviet Armenia in 1986.
Medical cooperation with the Soviet space program that began with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in the 1970s, combined with telemedicine technology in the 1990s, assisted Russia during its transition after the Soviet Union was formally dissolved in December 1991.
This “Spacebridge to Russia” project was at the forefront in the integration of medicine with the Internet and the World Wide Web.
With the rapid expansion of global digital telecommunications and the Internet over the past 30 years, NASA has actively spun-off telemedicine technology and techniques, helping medical practitioners provide expert diagnoses and care remotely.
These same tools have also served as the basis for providing health care to our astronauts in orbit aboard the International Space Station and will reach beyond Earth orbit to care for our Artemis astronauts heading to the Moon and astronauts who ultimately embark on missions to Mars.
From the small beginnings of the STARPAHC effort, NASA’s telemedicine efforts have been a boon to astronauts in space, as well as people on Earth.
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