Experts believe that telemedicine has great promise – to reduce the cost of health care, improve the quality and give you prompt access to the medical help you need from some of the best doctors in the country.

For example, suppose you are a patient in an intensive care ward in southern Minnesota and parts of Iowa and Wisconsin. There is a chance that your vital signs are not being monitored by the staff of the hospital you are in. They could be monitored by the clinical staff of the Mayo Clinic – miles away. The Mayo Clinic’s eICU, or electronic intensive care unit, currently monitors 73 ICU beds in remote locations.

Glen Stubbe, writing in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, explains how the Mayo staff works:

They zoom in remote video cameras to get detailed focus on individuals. They watch blood pressure numbers and respiration. They talk to patients. If they need to insert a breathing tube or reinflate a collapsed lung, they contact technicians at the hospitals where the patients are located and tell them what to do. They also listen to those technicians’ feedback on how patients are progressing.