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The History of Telemedicine at Texas Tech

Preston Smith Library

Telemedicine began at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) in 1989 as a grant-funded research project, originally designed to connect the four campuses of the Health Sciences Center located in Lubbock, Amarillo, Odessa, and El Paso. With the use of distance communications for education and teleconferencing, it was logical that links could also be made from the main Lubbock campus to distant rural sites for the purpose of live medical consultations.

remote countryside

The first teleconsultation was conducted in 1990 between a physician from Alpine, Texas, and a consultant in Lubbock. This initial consultation changed the possibilities of medicine in West Texas because patients in remote areas now had access to specialty consultations that previously would have required traveling great distances. During the first week that teleconsultations were conducted, the opportunities and advantages that telemedicine could offer were illustrated when a baby girl’s life was saved due to a teleconsultation between her general practitioner in the rural Big Bend area of Texas and a neonatologist in Lubbock (See Aida Porras story).