UC Davis' Health and Technology Center selects Norsat SecureLink for portable satellite system pilot

Burnaby 23 October 2003Using the same portable satellite terminal technology that enables journalists to broadcast news reports live from remote regions throughout the world, University of California Davis physicians will deliver speciality care to patients who live in some of California's remotest communities. Norsat International Inc. has been chosen by the Center for Health and Technology of the University of California, Davis Health System, to supply a portable Norsat SecureLink terminal as well as a fixed earth station. This equipment will be used in support of their latest telehealth initiative.

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The implications of access to highly portable, true-broadband satellite links for telemedicine applications are significant: smaller and lighter terminals that can be flown in to remote regions by helicopter allow for a wider geographic coverage, reduced response times in emergency situations, and better care. Rugged and portable, the Norsat SecureLink is a complete portable satellite data terminal which integrates everything required for true-broadband (up to 6Mbps) satellite transmission in three compact suitcases.

"UC Davis Medical Center has been using advanced telecommunication technologies since 1992 to bring health care expertise to patients throughout Northern California", stated Thomas S. Nesbitt, an associate dean for outreach, telehealth and continuing medical education who established the telemedicine network that brings speciality care to more than 60 clinical sites throughout California.

"We believe portable satellite terminal technologies have the potential to revolutionize the delivery of complex health care to rural areas and expand services to patients and physicians who reside in some of California's remotest areas, where access to health care is often hampered by inadequate telecommunications infrastructures", Mr. Nesbitt added.

Unlike traditional telemedicine services, which rely on connections to high-speed, land-based telephone lines, the portable satellite terminal makes a direct connection to a satellite and enables UC Davis specialists to communicate with patients and their physicians throughout California. Patients will remain in their own communities, eliminating the need to travel great distances to receive speciality care.

With a grant from the California Telemedicine and eHealth Center and The California Endowment, the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology is launching a one-year study of portable satellite terminal technology to conquer geographic and telecommunication barriers to high-quality, speciality health care. The portable satellite terminal and fixed earth station used in the study is manufactured by Norsat International Inc. UC Davis is working with the California State Office of Emergency Services to access satellite bandwidth.

Clinicians of the UC Davis Family Nurse Practitioner/Physicians Assistant Programme, many of whom already work in medically underserved communities, will use the portable satellite terminal to establish telehealth connections from their clinics to specialists at UC Davis Medical Center. The portable satellite terminal transmits real-time, bi-directional video and can be set up and fully operational within 15 minutes. The first portable satellite terminal telehealth connection is expected in January 2004. Other telehealth services, including patient education and case reviews, will begin later in the year.

Cameron Hunter, Norsat's President and CEO, stated: "We are delighted our Norsat SecureLink terminal was selected by such a prestigious programme. The application of our portable satellite terminal technology for such a demanding application as telehealth is a testament of the high quality, reliability and versatility of Norsat OmniLink portable satellite terminals."

UC Davis Medical Center is a regional referral centre for 33 counties of Northern California, a geographic area of 50.000 square miles with a population of 5 million people. The UC Davis Telehealth Programme is ranked among the top 10 telemedicine programmes in the United States. It has improved medical practice in rural California communities and trained hundreds of medical executives from all over the world in the application and practice of telehealth through the Telemedicine Learning Center.

Established in 1996, the UC Davis Telehealth Programme began seeking technological solutions to improving health care in rural communities. Today, UC Davis partners with many community hospitals and clinics throughout Northern California to provide California residents and their physicians with access to specialized medical care and education through the use of high-speed data lines linked to video units at the UC Davis Medical Center and outlying California hospitals and clinics.

Norsat International Inc. designs and markets satellite products for high-speed data transmission, including the Norsat OmniLink group of portable satellite terminals for applications in remote or hostile environments. The OmniLink terminals are ultra-portable and lightweight, can be used anywhere and offer the same performance as products twice their size.

Throughout its 25-year history, Canada's Norsat International Inc. has built a strong reputation in the field of satellite technology by providing its customers with innovative products and network systems. Norsat has taken innovation to the next level, applying its unique combination of experience and expertise in radio frequency (RF), video transmission and satellite data networking technologies.


Leslie Versweyveld

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