An 11-hospital network of paediatric telemedicine facilities is due to officially go live in March or April, but will be up and running at most of the sites before then.
Telecom, a sponsor of the project, is providing services in a non-commercial arrangement, including all-IP networking of the 11 sites, which include Auckland’s Starship, Middlemore and Greenlane hospitals and hospitals in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga and Palmerston North.
Telecom is installing MXM, media xchange manager, at the Mayoral Drive exchange, New Zealand TelePaediatric Service national manager Simon Hayden told Computerworld last week. MXM is an application from Vcon that allows participants in videoconferences to be connected remotely.
“Telecom got the links to all the hospitals over the Christmas-new year period, via its Private Office package. We’re charging ahead.”
The Vcon equipment supports both ISDN and IP videoconferencing, but IP was chosen because of the superior speed and potential for upscaling, Hayden says. “We can upgrade to 512kbit/s, 756kbit/s or 1Mbit/s — it won’t be hard at all.”
At present the priority is to get the network in use by paediatricians and other paediatric staff. Initial data applications are likely to be lower-bandwidth document sharing, Hayden says. “When we’re using it for cardiography, ie heart scans, we’ll need 1Mbit/s.”
A significant use of the network will be in videoconferencing “green rounds”, weekly sessions in which doctors discuss operations and procedure.
“Each week doctors do a talk, say, on a difficult case. They’ll go through the case and figure out how problems were solved, with doctors and specialists having a question and answer session.” Having green rounds via videoconference means the three Auckland hospitals will be able to participate without driving across town and other regions will also be able to participate, Hayden says.
Doctors will be able to consult face-to-face with colleagues and include patients in sessions. Videoconferenced committee meetings will be another use of the service and besides the 11 hospitals, Auckland University’s medical school is looking at getting on the network, Hayden says.
Hayden plans to travel to most of the participating hospitals next month to activate the links installed by Telecom.
The New Zealand TelePaediatric Service was established at the Starship hospital last year.