Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine deploys funded services for diabetics, pregnant women and offshore workers

Tromsø 23 May 2001At the Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine (NST), four new projects received NOK 5.8 million in funding from various co-operating partners. The projects are designed to examine the potential of telemedicine for improving quality of patient care in various situations. The topics include automated monitoring of the blood sugar level for diabetics and the use of telemedicine solutions in maternity-homes and for injuries at sea.

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"We are continually working to develop ideas for projects and seek co-operating partners to help us carry out the promises of these ideas. The funding we have received shows that there is great interest for our activities, and that we enjoy significant trust for our work to develop new telemedicine services", explained NST Director Mr. Steinar Pedersen.

Automated monitoring of blood sugar levels for diabetics is a project which will chart available options for blood sugar readings and provide wireless transmission of blood sugar data. Well-managed blood sugar levels reduce the risk of emergencies and long-term complications for diabetics. At the same time, this can cut expenses for society dramatically. In Norway, the treatment for various complications caused by diabetes costs almost NOK 4 billion a year, according to the Norwegian Diabetes Association.

The project has received funding from the Nordunet2 programme, and is a collaborative effort between NST, the University Hospital of Tromsø, the University of Tromsø, and Bang & Olufsen Medicom. The initiative illustrates NST's commitment to the development of telemedicine solutions which can assist chronically ill patients in their own homes. The challenges faced by health care institutions in case of the implementation of such a system will also be investigated.

The second project called Born on broadband aims to establish broadband connections between selected hospitals and maternity-homes in the Nordland and Finnmark counties. The broadband connections will be employed for the transmission of sonograms as well as CAT scans which are performed during pregnancies. The purpose of the project is to establish a high-quality communication between local midwifes and specialist centres in order to ensure reliable care for pregnant women in remote areas.

Easier access to specialist consultations can reduce the need for ambulance transportation to hospitals in the case of emergencies. Thus, a broadband service for maternity-homes will both increase access to and quality of care for people in rural areas, as well as improve cost-efficiency for the health care services as a whole.

Two NST projects concerning marine telemedicine have also received recent funding. The Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund (SND) will support an initiative to examine the possibilities for land-based medical assistance for offshore industries. The SND perceives such services as an opportunity for local business development. In addition to this project, NST has been commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a comprehensive and applicable telemedicine solution for offshore industries.

Mr. Pedersen thinks the projects serve well to illustrate the core activities at NST. "We keep our focus on the entire process of development and implementation of telemedicine services. Although we wish to contribute to the development of the service itself, it is even more important to consider the organisational framework into which it should be integrated, as well as how patients experience the service", explained Mr. Pedersen.


Leslie Versweyveld

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