Remote communications for telemedicine and disaster operations around the world

Neptune 18 March 1999 Throughout the world, telemedicine programmes are hampered by the inability to adequately deliver communications in those places where it is needed most. There have been tremendous inroads and inventions of devices which have the capacity to deliver precise patient data very efficiently. Many of these systems and peripherals however do not reach the rural and remote areas, simply because there is inadequate infrastructure to deliver the broad communications capability required. Vortex Technologies Inc. has been able to purchase 35 mobile telecommunications systems, including wide-band C and Ku satellite systems, which have the capacity to connect remote medical operations back to a point virtually anywhere on the globe.

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Throughout the world, telemedicine programmes are hampered by the inability to adequately deliver communications in those places where it is needed most. There have been tremendous inroads and inventions of devices which have the capacity to deliver precise patient data very efficiently. Many of these systems and peripherals however do not reach the rural and remote areas, simply because there is inadequate infrastructure to deliver the broad communications capability required. Vortex Technologies Inc. has been able to purchase 35 mobile telecommunications systems, including wide-band C and Ku satellite systems, which have the capacity to connect remote medical operations back to a point virtually anywhere on the globe.

The Breeze system constitutes a superior and very cost-effective multimedia solution, which can support up to fifty remote users involved in emergency or humanitarian relief operations, as well as telemedicine and disaster teams. Breeze offers robust and fast telecommunications facilities for all known telemedicine network and communications protocols. The set-up takes less than an hour. No additional tools are required. The system is able to provide switch voice, data including full Local and Wide Area Network capabilities, ISDN, and video channels. Currently, Vortex Technologies Inc. is building and pre-staging an additional set of fifty Breeze systems at key locations all over the world.

Breeze enables communications with a remote team after dialling a simple extension off a local hospital phone network. In this way, a team deployed to Africa from a hospital in the United States can actually have dial-tone and local area networks from the home-based facility. Thus, the costs for long-distance calls can be eliminated, since the team has access to the primary network as an Intranet. In addition, outside gateway services on the Internet can also be used. The Whirlwind Multimedia Communications System forms a second system, designed by Vortex, for use in isolated regions. Next to this, the company equally develops larger systems for up to 1000 deployed users.

The Vortex product line includes solutions that range from wireless systems, supporting paramedic and ambulance operations in an urban area to mobile systems for robust high-speed connections for intercontinental traffic. There are several systems in use at present in Bosnia and Croatia. In the recent past, Vortex communication systems have paid great services in Rwanda and Somalia. The company also offers training sessions to remote teams on how to operate the system. The systems can be shipped as "checked" airline baggage. Vortex Technologies has three operations centres of its own in the United States and England.


Leslie Versweyveld

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