Though the deadly earthquake in Armenia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, occurred more than a decade ago, the country continues to face considerable challenges, especially in providing adequate health care to people in both urban and rural areas. Since the earthquake in December 1988, Armenia has been the site of experiments in the use of telemedicine to provide access to health care in disaster situations. As part of these ongoing efforts, VIDAR Systems Corporation has donated a state-of-the-art x-ray film digitizer, making speciality care and consultations possible for many people whom otherwise would be left without treatment.
The VIDAR VXR-12 plus Film Digitizer converts hard-copy x-ray, Computed Tomography (CT), ultrasound, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) films to digital images which can be electronically transmitted, viewed, and stored. The VXR-12 plus will replace an inexpensive and non-medical quality scanner which does not provide the level of image quality required for radiologists and other specialists to make remote primary diagnoses directly from high-resolution electronic images. This solution is preferred to relying on hard-copy films. In Armenia, the digitizer will be used by the physicians of Diagnostica Medical Center, as the leading diagnostic medical facility in Armenia.
According to Dr. Haik Nikogosian, who is the Armenian Minister of Health as well as founder and former chairman of Diagnostica, the telemedicine project is a vital way to provide much-needed care to the people of Armenia. To this purpose, the donation of the VIDAR digitizer as a key tool will make effective telemedicine possible. The health care infrastructure in Armenia was largely destroyed by the magnitude 6.9 earthquake, which killed more than 25.000 people, injured 25.000 persons, and caused direct economic losses of $14.2 billion. Armenia has a population of 3.5 million people. The country is far from recovered from the disaster. An estimated 30.000 people are still living in ramshackle temporary huts in the city of Guymri, the second largest city.
According to Dr. Sarkis Zartarian, president of the Applied Communication Concepts and also the United States based co-ordinator for the telemedicine project, the VXR-12 plus digitizer will provide a number of crucial benefits. Though a group of medical personnel is staffed in Guymri, there still exists a need for consultation with specialists at the Diagnostica headquarters back in Yerevan, the capital city, as Dr. Zartarian explains. Due to the high level of unemployment and the damaged infrastructure, travel is limited and large costs make it nearly impossible for patients to see specialists. The innovative digitizer will enable patients whose diagnoses are difficult to make and who require a specialist consultation, to be handled more quickly.
Brian Beardslee, director of VIDAR Systems' Medical Business Line, claims that access to a high-quality digitized image is a key to improving health care delivery in disaster situations, where remote consultations with physicians may be required due to damaged facilities or shortage of specialists. Next to this, the routine daily use of electronic images in the emerging field of remote primary diagnosis promises to offer enormous benefits in non-disaster cases, from delivering speciality care in remote areas to increasing the efficiency of large radiology groups. VIDAR Systems Corporation, a technology company based in Virginia, is a major provider of x-ray film digitizers and advanced solutions for the medical markets. Other products in VIDAR's family of high-quality digitizers include TeleRadPro, DiagnosticPro, and MammographyPro.