Wire One's videoconference tools enable telehealth training and remote consultation at St. Vincent

Hillside 20 June 2002St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Montana, has become the first organisation to conduct international telehealth training using Wire One's Glowpoint network. With technical assistance from Wire One's video bridging department in Camarillo, California, Dr. David Jackson, Medical Director of Maternal and Foetal Medicine at St. Vincent Healthcare and a private practitioner at the Foetal Diagnostic Center in Billings, participated in a videoconference with the Interuniversity Hospital in Dubrovnik, Croatia, as part of one of Europe's largest conferences on medical ultrasounds.


An expert in the use of 3D ultrasound imaging in obstetrics and gynaecology, Dr. Jackson spoke directly via video to approximately 100 participants at the Ian Donald School of Medical Ultrasound in Croatia. His presentation focused on the application of 3D ultrasound on evaluating the cervix as it relates to premature labour and premature birth, the foetal heart and the foetal brain.

As part of the videoconference, Dr. Jackson treated the audience to a real time consultation regarding a patient with foetal spina bifida using a 3D ultrasound system. "This was a rare opportunity for us to test our educational capabilities and to initiate international ultrasound consultation. We hope this initial interaction will lead to future telemedicine consultations", stated Dr. Jackson. "Our quest is that, with video technology, experts around the world can be called upon to provide diagnoses here in Billings. Since there is a direct visualisation of the patient which is nearly real time over the telemedicine connection, the approach is personal and compassionate."

In addition to supporting this international effort, Wire One is now equipping several rooms in St. Vincent Healthcare's new Mansfield Health Education Center with state-of-the-art audio and visual equipment. The facility will have main conference room capabilities for programmes requiring classroom style seating for up to 150 participants.

Four smaller breakout rooms will offer additional seating for up to 40 participants each. All conference rooms incorporate state-of-the-art wireless, fiber optic and digital conference support systems which are configurable for each room or as a series of rooms. Satellite downlinks, wideband Internet connectivity, and videoconferencing are available in each of the rooms. The new facility's opening is scheduled for Autumn 2002.

Wire One continues to provide ongoing support to St. Vincent Healthcare's twenty site Partners in Health Telemedicine Network (PHTN). PHTN has installed Polycom systems in physician practices to encourage specialists in orthopaedics, dermatology, perinatology, and mental and behavioural health to engage in telemedicine consults in rural communities.

PHTN covers over 49.000 square miles of Montana's 145.552 square miles, populated by 6,2 persons per square mile. New Jersey, in comparison, covers 7417 square miles with a population of 1134 persons per square mile. PHTN is also connected to the H.323 network of the Billings Area Indian Health Services and seven Montana and Wyoming reservations. Furthermore, the network has been in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on a terrestrial demonstration project utilising Ka-band satellite communications and the Telemedicine Instrumentation Pack, which has flown on the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

"As videoconferencing technology matures, it grows more and more useful and affordable for the medical community. Its applications in rural areas like Montana are profuse, and at St. Vincent Healthcare, we are committed to developing a videoconferencing and telehealth enterprise that will support the needs of our patients and communities", stated John Zauher, director of health informatics at St. Vincent Healthcare.

In 1898, St. Vincent Healthcare was founded in Billings by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas. Motivated by its 100-year-old mission to provide compassionate care and service, St. Vincent has become one of Montana's leading comprehensive hospitals. Serving more than 400.000 people in a four-state area, today St. Vincent is recognised as a technological expert in health care.

St. Vincent Healthcare is part of the Montana Region of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System, and as such it is affiliated with two other Montana health institutions: St. James Healthcare in Butte and Holy Rosary Healthcare in Miles City. This affiliation provides access to the latest technology and benchmarking information. St. Vincent is the only nationally recognised hospital in the region for outstanding services in Cardiology, Orthopaedics and Stroke Care. St. Vincent also offers progressive speciality services in Neurology, Oncology, Paediatrics, Obstetrics, Neonatology, and Perinatology.

Wire One Technologies Inc. is a full-service provider of a complete range of video communications solutions, including Glowpoint, the first IP-based network dedicated to video communications. The company is an integrator for major video communications manufacturers including Cisco Systems, Polycom Inc., RADVISION, VCON, and VTEL.

Wire One's Glowpoint network utilises an IP backbone and achieves last mile connectivity through a variety of solutions including DSL, T1, and Optical Ethernet. Wire One's installed customer base includes more than 3000 companies with approximately 17.000 videoconferencing systems in the commercial, federal and state government, medical and education marketplaces nationwide and across the globe.

Leslie Versweyveld

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