Nine rural hospitals in southern Arizona will soon be able to talk to trauma specialists at the University of Arizona Medical Centre in Tucson through live video linkups. A gift of $285,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will pay for the first emergency-room-based telemedicine program in the country. The money will buy equipment to link the University Medical Centre to rural hospitals by next year. The program will enable emergency-room patients in those areas to be treated by specialists based in Tucson. Doctors at the medical centre will be able to examine and talk to the patients and talk to the local doctors in real time using videoconferencing technology. Dr. Rifat Latifi, a trauma surgeon at UA’s medical centre who leads the program said telemedicine saved the lives of five trauma patients out of a total of 21 patients treated telemedically in a 13-month teletrauma pilot program conducted between the University Medical Centre and the Southeast Arizona Medical Centre in Douglas.