ImageCom to enhance live video link for patient assessment with satellite for remote field reporting

Blackburn 27 October 2000ImageCom, Europe's leading video conferencing manufacturer of high quality codec and based in the United Kingdom, has launched Satellite RVE, the remote video expertise video conferencing solution via satellite which provides real time interactive video communication virtually anywhere in the world. Since 1999, the RVE system without the satellite extension is used at Blackburn Royal Infirmary in wireless patient monitoring and tele-consulting applications for both oral and maxillo-facial surgery.

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The exciting introduction of satellite implementation is the start of next generation interactive video communications, which will enhance rapid decision making and cost savings for all field reporting applications. "The compliance of Inmarsat, which allows global video coverage from anywhere in the world, coupled with its compact size, places Satellite RVE into the next generation of video-conferencing solutions", commented Phil Taylor, Director of Marketing, ImageCom Ltd.

The introduction of Satellite RVE brings significant benefits to remote field applications where high quality moving pictures are essential. They include the remote analysis of equipment in the field, remote diagnosis of medical situations like telemedicine, reporting from a field situation, surveillance of unmanned sites and video-conferencing from the field. Satellite RVE has many unique features. It is extremely light and easy to carry. Its powerful, user-friendly control panel makes this system available to use without any specialist training with an adaptable architecture to suit any application.

In the summer of 1999, ImageCom cameras went "live" at the British Blackburn Royal Infirmary. Specialist staff have been able to make detailed examinations using ImageCom's Remote Video Expertise system. Treatment for facial injuries in one part of Lancashire since then has been greatly improved. Applying ImageCom's real time audio-visual technology, accident victims no longer need to travel from the surrounding towns of Bolton, Bury or Burnley to be examined by oral or maxillo-facial surgeons at Blackburn. Patients in any of three accident and emergency departments can currently be assessed by live video link from Blackburn Royal Infirmary instead.

Under the previous referral system covering a local population of some 1,25 million people, serious problems and delays arose when injured patients, particularly young children, were transferred from outlying hospitals. After examination, patients sometimes had to be advised that, for various medical reasons, treatment could not proceed until a later date. Hospital staff sought help from ImageCom, whose response was to design a customised remote video system virtually from scratch. "The technical input and help they gave us was superb", stated John Lowery, the oral and maxillo-facial surgeon at Blackburn Royal Infirmary.

The remote video system enables the Blackburn surgeons to rapidly assess patients' injuries at the remote hospital and make careful judgements about the best treatment option for each individual. This may include immediate treatment at the distant hospital, under guidance from the centre; deferred treatment, with the patient attending an out-patient clinic later; in-patient admission and specialist care at the base hospital; or admission to the outlying hospital, where a visiting surgeon can carry out further assessment and treatment.

A training and familiarisation programme has helped hospital staff overcome initial "techno fears" and recently a wireless transmission link was set up in the speciality ward at the infirmary in order to monitor patient progress. This includes the patients who have undergone major operative procedures involving micro-surgical reconstruction, which calls for regular, experienced observation. Even X-rays and patient records can be transmitted down the line by data link.

John Lowery commented: "ImageCom enables us to examine patients much more quickly and effectively than ever before. As well as maximising valuable National Health Service (NHS) resources, we can now save patients and their families the inconvenience and distress of wasted journeys, late at night especially, when there is virtually no public transport." Hospital staff are so delighted with the ImageCom system, they are widening its uses to include multi-centre educational link-ups via the ISDN network, and soon hope to participate live in an international speciality treatment conference.


Leslie Versweyveld

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