For 25 years, AMD Global Telemedicine has been on the forefront of connecting medical providers with patients and families by using technology to overcome geographic or logistical barriers. In that time, AMD has seen telemedicine balloon into an integral part of healthcare delivery, and has been a leader in the industry every step of the way.
AMD’s origin story is one of vision, but also humble beginnings. When the business was first getting started, developments such as video conferencing or even wide-spread internet use were still new and untested in the healthcare space. According to AMD President Steven Normandin, outside of a few companies working specifically on telemedical device or video technologies, the industry that would become telemedicine was largely nonexistent.
“It was a few people, a few pilot programs, and a lot of government grants and the military were really the only people involved back 25 years ago. There really wasn’t any landscape at all getting started.” Normandin explained in a recent interview.
“When we first started off, we were commercializing medical products developed by others. The reason we got into telemedicine was that several of my partners when we founded the company worked for Digital Equipment Corporation … Somebody from the Digital Equipment Healthcare Group contacted us about a project they were working on in Texas for telemedicine. We didn’t really know what telemedicine was then, but we were a start-up company and knew we needed the contract, so we all dug heavily into what telemedicine was, provided them with the information that they needed, and went from there. That same group in those first couple years when we were first starting out, that same group took us into projects that they were dealing with in Saudi Arabia as well as Egypt. That was our start internationally, very early on.”
Addressing specific needs
As AMD began to take on perfecting telemedicine, it was important to stay focused. In this way, the company could be sure that the products being developed were as good as they could be, but also ensure that they would address real needs facing providers. Early on, a decision was made to focus on working with businesses because the leadership team at AMD felt that would be the best way to have impact. There was a h2 knowledge of what telemedicine and AMD devices could offer to medical providers, and Normandin along with co-founder, former AMD President and present Vice President for Nonin, Mark VanderWerf and their team wanted to ensure that the company could stay true to delivering results. That attitude shapes the continuity of care that AMD telemedicine can offer.
In addressing a new and rapidly developing telemedicine landscape, Normandin explained how AMD was able to earn early success.
“There was really no industry before, so when your looking at it, what kind of products do you need? We could go out and start manufacturing for a dozen different types of product. It was high-risk and a changing industry. So what we did was we went to companies that were well-established and high-quality producers of products and sat down with a lot of them and said ‘your products, with just a tweak, would be ideally suited for this space.’ Again, we’re back in the mid-90s, and no one really knew or understood what the space was. After a collaborative effort with manufacturers that were willing to embark on this new telemedicine venture with us, we finally had some products that we could offer to this market. We took our offerings to healthcare practitioners we had built up relationships with and to their patients for feedback.”
Since that time, AMD has grown to develop unique and flexible products that can fit the needs of a high-profile hospital network, as well as a rural physician in middle-America or abroad. A key ingredient to their success was evolving from a provider of medical device and “peripherals” to a telemedicine company that designs complete solutions for clinical applications. The development of AGNES Interactive, AMD’s web-based software platform, was a complete game-changer for how our customers can leverage telemedicine within their organizations. Throughout it all this evolution, AMD has maintained a robust reputation for reliability.
“We sell product to some of the most rural areas in the world. We have stuff in the International Space Station, the middle of Africa, the middle of Asia. We have to make sure the products that we sell work now and are solid for years and years to come. We have cameras that we sold over 20 years ago, and when we talk to people, they’re working just fine.”
Growing influence and mobility
AMD’s success and growth is indicative of how the industry as a whole has matured in the last few decades. When telemedicine first began, it was a niche industry related to communication and addressing specific needs. Now, the use of remote conferencing and digital tools to deliver healthcare is, as Normandin explained, “something that’s on the priority list of just about every major hospital in the country.”
When telemedicine first began, providers would need to set aside entire rooms to support the computing power necessary for video conferencing and other procedures. Now, telemedicine devices are sleek, affordable and mobile, a testament to how far AMD and the industry itself has come.
“As telemedicine becomes more standard, I think the term ‘telemedicine’ will go away in the not too distant future. I think it’s going to be just ‘medicine.’ It’s just one more tool to practice healthcare.”