“the issue of who will be the primary care physician of tomorrow, folks, it’s us”
Watch as the founding father of telemedicine takes us back to where it all started.
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“Well, you know I’d like to begin with a huge thank you not simply from me but from my professor of medicine Dr. Ken Byrd who told me about his idea of telemedicine in 1967 when I was a third-year resident in medicine at the MGH and I was actually running the emergency department. A late summer day standing out in front of the ER waiting for the next usual Boston traffic accident victim to come wheeling in from EMS, when all of a sudden the ER doors opened wildly and they’re standing in the door was my professor of medicine Dr. Ken Byrd red-faced and sweating and looking upset and I knew exactly why. Because Ken Byrd, like many Harvard professors, in those days as a full professor was making a grand total of $8,000 a year and he was moonlighting like every other Harvard professor and he was moonlighting as medical director at Logan Airport Medical station.
Those of you who have ever been to Boston before. The two additional tunnels from the airport to the center of the city will know that it used to take a minimum of an hour each way to go from
the airport to the MGH and Ken had to do this every single day, and this particular summer day while parked under the Charles River in the Sumner tunnel because that was the only tunnel. There was no Callahan tunnel, there was no Ted Williams tunnel. He got an idea and as he came storming through the door he saw me and he came walking up to me and he grabbed my arm and he said ‘J’ and I said ‘I know Dr. Byrd. I know you got caught in the traffic again.’ He said ‘yes, but I had this idea. What do you think about it? what if I get two TV cameras (remember this is 1967) what if I get two TV cameras and I put one here at the MGH ER and one at Logan Airport and I started to examine patients over this TV system. Now, you have to understand I was a resident. He was my professor. I thought this was a stupidest idea I’d ever heard of in my life, but I had enough common sense to say ‘Gee Dr. Byrd. That’s a very interesting idea (…)”