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Telemedicine - with potential for many other isolated communities

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  • Bob Conrich
    Press Relese World s Most Remote Island Gets Advanced Medical Support From Team Led by IBM and Beacon Equity Partners (PressMediaWire) ARMONK, NY - 14 Nov
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 14, 2007
      Press Relese

      World's Most Remote Island Gets Advanced Medical Support From Team Led
      by IBM and Beacon Equity Partners

      (PressMediaWire) ARMONK, NY - 14 Nov 2007: The world's most remote
      inhabited island can now access advanced telemedical care, thanks to
      pro-bono services and support from a high-technology team led by IBM
      and Beacon Equity Partners. Tristan da Cunha is located more than
      1,665 miles west of Cape Town, South Africa, and is accessible only by
      a boat trip lasting a week or more. Some 270 British Citizens call the
      island home.

      IBM and Beacon Equity Partners today joined Medweb, the University of
      Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the Government of Tristan da
      Cunha in announcing the successful implementation of "Project
      Tristan." This tested and proven remote medical solution combines
      medical equipment, satellite communications and remotely supported
      electronic health-record (EHR) technology, allowing medical experts
      from anywhere in the world to assist island clinicians in their daily
      practices with medical diagnoses and emergency support. Until
      recently, the island's only physician, Dr. Carel Van der Merwe, has
      had to rely upon minimal technology and limited medical support.
      Working from a hospital without so much as its own telephone to
      provide care for patients, he has often performed life-saving
      diagnoses and procedures without proper equipment or specialized
      expertise. Lacking a communications system that could accept email
      attachments, help in interpreting X-Rays or EKGs, he has depended on
      digital images scanned, printed and faxed to specialists thousands of
      miles away, delaying diagnoses by days. With no airstrip on the
      island, emergency evacuation or outside medical intervention has been
      and remains today virtually impossible.

      Project Tristan was conceived by Edward Mullen, Chairman of Beacon
      Equity Partners, and Paul Grundy, MD, MPH, and IBM's Director of
      Healthcare Technology and Strategic Initiatives, as a way to honor the
      memory of a close friend, Thomas Wiese. It was implemented with the
      guidance and support of UPMC, as well as of Dr. Richard Bakalar, Chief
      Medical Officer for IBM, who also established the Navy's first
      integrated Telemedicine Office at the National Naval Medical Center in
      Bethesda, MD, prior to joining IBM. Dr. Bakalar is also President of
      the American Telemedicine Association.

      Project Tristan,which is based on open standards and runs on the Linux
      Operating System, is expected to greatly enhance the island's level of
      medical care and standard of living. The island's physician is now
      able to electronically capture and share medical data and information,
      including X-Rays and EKGsas well as pulmonary function evaluations and
      video camera examinations with physician consultants. Satellite
      communications will enable clinicians to provide real-time diagnostic
      advice and suggested treatments to the attending physician.

      "The ability to share medical data quickly and easily will be a life
      saver for our residents," said Dr. Van der Merwe. "By joining forces,
      IBM, Beacon Equity Partners, Medweb and UPMC have not only created the
      capability to bring critical, patient-centric care to our remote
      island, but also to other distant locations around the world – on land
      or sea – that require constant connection to expert medical resources."

      Contributions from each team member were as follows:

      IBM: Solution co-development, integration and project management for
      the telemedicine system provided to Tristan da Cunha. Products and
      services included staffing, on-site installation of the system
      (requiring a 25 day service call because of the limited means of
      getting to the island), financial resources, IBM xSeries servers
      provided to Medweb and high-resolution monitors. Beacon Equity
      Partners: Co-development of the concept and and funding for the
      project. Medweb: Medweb servers and software and additional medical
      input devices including a computed radiography system for digital
      X-Ray; integration of ECG, digital cameras, spirometry and video
      conferencing capabilities; configuration and testing, remote
      installation, training and sustained support services on an ongoing
      basis, including primary technical and help desk services. University
      of Pittsburgh Medical Center: With its widely recognized experience in
      telemedicine in the U.S. and abroad, UPMC volunteered to help plan and
      implement Project Tristan. Additionally, UPMC offered clinical
      professional service to the island, including medical consultations on
      request; secure and reliable access to robust and comprehensive
      multimedia medical data on Tristan patients from the Medweb
      Telemedicine solution; and ongoing remote training to support Project
      Tristan as needed. SOAPwareR: Project Tristan features cutting-edge,
      remotely supported Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology courtesy
      of SOAPware, Inc. This solution has more installed sites and in use in
      more nations than any other. "Connecting the most remote inhabited
      spot on the face of the earth, Tristan da Cunha, to advanced medical
      care in real time and over the Internet is proof that the world is
      really flat. This a big step towards providing everyone access to
      centers of healthcare excellence regardless of geographical location,"
      said Paul Grundy, MD, MPH, IBM's executive sponsor for Project Tristan
      and Director of IBM's Healthcare Technology and Strategic Initiatives.
      "It's now possible to monitor a patient's heart and remotely change
      the setting on a pacemaker or make a complex fracture diagnoses over a
      satellite Internet connection -- even in an environment where the
      closest advanced care via a ship would otherwise have taken a week to
      reach the Island and another to return to the mainland for care."
      In dedicating Project Tristan to the memory of Weiss, who was lost
      to cancer in 2006 after a lifetime of helping others, the parties
      share a vision of the project's potential impact around the world.
      "Thomas had enormous energy and enthusiasm for reaching out to
      others," said Ed Mullen. "It is in memory of his spirit, resolve and
      guiding principles that our team has worked to deploy Tristan on
      Tristan da Cunha. Our unanimous goal is to expand this advanced
      telemedical solution to improve healthcare in remote locations around
      the world."

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