Waitemata uses MS funding for remote diagnosis

Innovation will benefit other DHBs and different medical conditions

The Waitemata District Health Board’s successful bid for Microsoft Innovation Centre funding will lead to the development of an improved monitoring system for diabetes patients, but could eventually see a wider spectrum of use. When fully developed and trialled, it will be made available freely to other DHB’s, says Waitemata spokesman Andrew Cave.

The system that will be developed with Innovation Centre funding is designed to warn of deterioration of the eye’s retina in patients with diabetes. At present, pictures are taken of the eyes and if any suspicious symptoms are present, the images must be sent physically to an ophthalmologist, with the skills to make a diagnosis. This can introduce considerable delay.

With the help of Microsoft’s Live Conferencing Server, the eye images will be able to be viewed online by whichever of a “pool” of ophthalmologists is free at the time, and a diagnosis made immediately.

Cave says as an enthusiast of web-based conferencing, he saw the opportunity for remote diagnosis. At the same time, through that medium, he learned of the Innovation Centre grant scheme.

Software development for the project will be done by Simpl, a partner chosen for the board by Microsoft. Cave says Waitemata didn’t have developers in-house with the right kind of skills.

A system of record-keeping and tracking, centred on a patient register will form part of the system, but fortunately this can be done substantially with packaged software.

The system is likely to have application to other areas of diagnosis and treatment, such as endoscopy, says Cave.

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