UCI's new telemedicine training facility opens

Physicians at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine will begin moving into a new $40.5 million medical education building this week. The new building includes a telemedicine training center, which officials say will help prepare their doctors for healthcare in the digital age.

The new facility houses educational activities for the more than 400 UC Irvine medical students including, the Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC), a medical training program designed to provide the growing Latino population with greater access to healthcare through telemedicine.

"This medical education building will play an important part in supporting new initiatives and technologies in teaching and healthcare delivery that will establish UC Irvine as a national leader in medical education," said the former vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, David N. Bailey, in Dec. 2007 when the university first broke ground for the new building.

Officials said the centerpiece to the building is its telemedicine facility, which includes a 60-seat interactive televideo center and a clinical simulation lab and clinical skills center. Students will be able to use digitally controlled, full-body simulators in operating-room and trauma-room settings, and the televideo room will allow students to see medicine practiced at distant locations with real-time ability to communicate with clinical instructors.

The telemedicine facilities are designed to aid healthcare delivery efforts to underserved agricultural and remote regions of California, said officials.

“Work in this new facility will focus on training the next generation of physicians to provide medical care when distance separates the doctor and the patient,” said Ira T. Lott, associate dean for telemedicine. "The technological resources available to the UC Irvine School of Medicine will help to promote optimal physician-to-patient interactions and to further this exciting, new area of healthcare.”

The new building was funded in part by the Proposition 1D bond measure approved by California voters in November 2006, which included $200 million to expand UC’s medical schools and enhance telemedicine programs throughout the state.