TeleVital enables remote anaesthesiological monitoring over the Internet between Virginia and Ecuador

Milpitas 16 January 2002TeleVital Inc., specialised in Web-based telemedicine, recently achieved a significant milestone. The company's VitalWeb browser-based vital sign monitoring software enabled the first reported anaesthesiological monitoring of a surgical procedure over the Internet. Using TeleVital's VitalWeb, which monitors and records physiological data in real time over the Internet, a consulting anaesthesiologist at the Virginia Commonwealth University's (VCU) Medical College of Virginia Hospital monitored the breathing and heart rhythms of a young woman undergoing a gall bladder operation 3000 miles away in Sucua, Ecuador.

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Not only was the operation a success, but VitalWeb technology was further validated when anaesthesiologist Dr. Lynne Gehr detected an anomaly in the patient's heart rhythm. The surgeon, Dr. Ronald C. Merrell, Chairman of Surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Medicine, corrected the potentially life threatening condition in the fully-equipped mobile operating room, a converted delivery truck.

"The remote anaesthesiological monitoring in Ecuador is one more example of how TeleVital enables health care professionals to transcend geographical barriers to improve patient care", stated Kishore Kumar, president of TeleVital Inc. "VitalWeb's real time data monitoring capabilities opens up a world of possibilities including remote cardiac monitoring, home health care and even helping ailing astronauts in space."

The December 2001 field test in Ecuador was part of ongoing telemedicine evaluations conducted by the VCU-based Medical Informatics and Technology Applications Consortium (MITAC), a Commercial Space Center (CSC) sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The project was conducted under the direction of MITAC Executive Director, Charles R. Doarn.

"The experience of sitting at my desktop computer in Virginia monitoring a patient's vital signs during an operation in Ecuador was quite remarkable", stated Dr. Gehr. "The VitalWeb link provided the same information that I would have received if I had been physically in the operating room. TeleVital's VitalWeb represents a significant advance in telemedicine with far-reaching benefits for both health care professionals and their patients."

VitalWeb takes traditional store and forward telemedicine to the next step by supporting the real time streaming and viewing of raw and interpreted vital sign data. The full-featured communications application also offers synchronous real time audio and video communication. VitalWeb's browser-based open architecture can Web-enable any PC medical device on any platform which supports a browser. VitalWeb requires a computer with an Internet connection, a Web browser and a medical device with a communications port. And because it is completely browser-based, there is never any need to download, install or upgrade software.

The operation, which was performed in a remote area of Ecuador, exemplifies how easy it is to connect to VitalWeb. Using a laptop computer, a member of the surgical team logged into the TeleVital Web site. Using medical devices manufactured by QRS Diagnostics, a two-lead EKG affixed to the patient's extremities and a pulse oximetry clip fastened to the patient's index finger was attached to the computer. The streaming data from the devices was transmitted via a 64K satellite uplink from the mobile operating room to the consulting anaesthesiologist in Richmond, Virginia for real time viewing on a single computer screen.

While real time data viewing enables remote monitoring, VitalWeb also simultaneously stores the information in a permanent electronic medical record on its secure database server for easy retrieval or forwarding. The current release of VitalWeb supports several off-the-shelf wired and wireless EKG, EMG, EEG, blood pressure, spirometry and oximetry, and multi-parameter vital sign monitoring devices.


Leslie Versweyveld

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