KU dietitians and telemedicine experts show how ultra-high-speed Internet can improve health

August 03, 2012

By Chris Deffenbaugh

A video featuring Gary Doolittle, M.D., a professor of medicine and telemedicine at KU Medical Center, plays at the new Google Fiber showcase in Kansas City.

The University of Kansas Medical Center is playing a major role in Google Fiber's long-awaited arrival in Kansas City. As a content partner, the medical center is front-and-center at the Google Fiber Showcase as Google demonstrates a new world of possibilities available through an ultra-fast fiber Internet connection offering data at speeds up to 100 times faster than conventional broadband Internet.

On Thursday, July 26, Google opened its showcase just blocks from the medical center at 43rd Ave. and State Line Rd. In addition to KU Medical Center video content being displayed on the new Google TV systems, dietitians from the KU department of Dietetics and Nutrition began conducting "long-distance" nutrition sessions. Using state-of-the-art digital teleconference systems, the KU dietitians connect to the Google Fiber space from their offices on the medical center campus and interact face-to-face with visitors at the showcase. Thanks to the ultra-fast fiber Internet connection, buffering and poor video streaming quality are a thing of the past.

For Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., RD, chair of the KU department of Dietetics and Nutrition, the Google Fiber experience is an exciting opportunity to help people who need accurate information.

"Nutrition is a very hot topic and people have a lot of questions," says Sullivan.  "Lots of people think they have the answers but there's a lot of misinformation out there.  I love this because it's a great way for us to give out credible nutrition information for free."

During the first weekend of the Google Fiber experience, KU dietitians conducted nutritional information sessions for 50 individuals on wide-ranging topics such as the impact of diet on high blood pressure, how to prevent cramps while exercising, the benefits of the Paleolithic diet, which multi-vitamins are recommended, how foods can improve skin health and the principles surrounding ayurvedic nutrition. Dietetics and Nutrition faculty will continue to offer these informational sessions seven days a week over the next six months. Though the schedule is robust, there's a great deal of excitement behind the initiative.

"I think it highlights the future of healthcare," says Sullivan. "Whether it's a dietitian or doctor, I think being able to access individuals in their homes is the ideal way to help people better manage chronic disease and keep them out of the hospital."

The medical center's nationally recognized Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth is also presenting "Telemedicine — Present and Future" to Google Fiber Space visitors, demonstrating the opportunities for health care providers to interact with their patients outside of clinical settings.

Steve Fennel, director of Telecommunications Outreach, said the Google Fiber project is a high-profile platform to showcase the university's people and its online abilities.

"It's an opportunity to engage with the community and demonstrate how technology can positively impact health, wellness and education," says Fennel, who is leading the medical center's involvement with Google.

For Sullivan, the most exciting opportunity is for prevention. "Through Google Fiber," Sullivan says, "I can connect to schools, nursing facilities, patients in their homes and individuals at the Google Showcase and provide them with the kinds of information that will keep them healthy."

Last modified: Sep 07, 2012