Internet Brings New Dimension To Consultative Healthcare

Often in our newscast, you see needy persons seeking help to get abroad to do important life-saving surgeries, which cannot be performed in Belize.

It costs thousands of dollars to get the outside medical help, but the KHMH wants to provide those services at home.

In a world where communication is instantaneous, the hospital is trying to catch up with the rest of the world in making cutting edge medical interventions. So today, they launched their telemedicine initiative. Daniel Ortiz has this report:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Today, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital opened up a new portal of service to the public with the launch of their videoconferencing capability. It may seem ordinary or even mundane, but what it offers is telemedicine, the ability for KHMH doctors to consult about patient care with world - renowned medical specialist outside of Belize, in real time while the surgeons are operating. The first medical institutions that have agreed to assist KHMH in this capacity are the Carolinas Healthcare Systemís International Medical Outreach program and Carolinas HealthCare Systemís Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute:

Dr. Adrian Coye - Medical Chief of Staff, KHMH
"This technology allows us to do that in a very real time manner and it you can't get it better than that, embracing all the benefits, how we are advancing, where technology is concerned. People have twitter, facebook and all of that and I think Telemedicine is going to be able to take away those physical barriers for countries like Belize, which not everyone can get on a plane and go and get healthcare elsewhere."

Dr. Francis Gary Longworth - CEO, KHMH Authority
"It marks a new beginning in the art and delivery of medicine here at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. To the Carolinas Health Care Systems, the Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute, and the Highman Foundation, for their donation of equipment and support. In particular, Professor Robchek, who has become a firm friend of Belize and who constantly encourages us to take that extra step and go that extra mile."

Dr. Adrian Coye
"This is an idea that has been around and Dr. Bulwer, to be honest, had brought up the whole concept about being able to transmit images as part of a way of improving health care delivery, and I was able to pick up on it because I saw the potential."

It is all possible with the use of state-of-the-art camera equipment, known as the Polycom V6X 7000.

Nesean Castillo - IT Department, KHMH
"This is the Polycom machine, if you can look over here. It connects directly to your television and we have a microphone here. Now the thing is about the Polycom is that it can focus on the person in particular so it has the ability to focus in that person and you can see that person clearly as oppose to skype and many other technologies. The cameras are not strong enough but that's where Polycom shines."

"When installed at the different units, people will be able to do conferences, for example if you have someone in the other team, you can actually give advice, you can see exactly what's happening this side and it's a quick response that you will get from them."

Dr. Adrian Coye
"The real issue is that we are practicing medicine sometimes almost like it's only one specialist know this and only one knows that. In a way, in isolation, but if you really want to benefit the patient, very often I may not know everything. A colleague who may have experience with the problem before has a solution and so being able to collaborate in the interest of the patients results in the patient getting the best care."

"We had prior testing experience where we can show that I can take my ipad, which would have a study and transmit it to the cloud using specific sequence of passwords or firewalls etc., giving a permission to one person elsewhere for medical reasons to look at it or examine it and therefore that has it's own protocols of protection. I was just showing you that we can have images digitally recorded, transmitted in real time, it can be assesses anywhere in the world."

And the communications are being made possible by BTL, which is donating a dedicated 4 megabit Internet connection to KHMH:

Dr. Adrian Coye
"I just had to write a letter and as BTL, to be honest, that's all ended up being the final clincher. I wrote a, I soppose a very persuasive arguement."

Dr. Dionne Miranda - Customer Services Manager, BTL
"When the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital came to us and asked us for this internet connection, so that they would be able to connect back to other hospitals around the world, so that they can share diagnosis with doctors abroad, so that they can share training, and be able to communicate across the country of Belize, we realized that this was something that had to be done, so this is a immensly special day for the people of Belize. Right now it means that anybody who comes to the KHMH and has some kind of special disease or issue that needs to be dealt with, that foreign doctors who the Karl Heusner has partnered with can now assist in diagnosis."

"Itís a 4 meg but it's a dedicated connection, which means it's a 4 meg up link and a 4 meg down link and this is what the KHMH technical team identified as what would be necessary to drive what they are going to be doing."

Apart from consultation, KHMH envisions that this telemedicine upgrade will allow them to get access to medical training right in the hospital by consulting with the outside specialists, allowing them to save time and money to travel abroad:

Dr. Adrian Coye
"This is how I envision we are going to do a lot of transformation of our transfer of skills for our health professionals and I am not just talking about doctors, we are talking about the nurses, the health care assistants, the physiotherapists, the respiratory therapist, the CRNE, the nurse anesthetist etc. The potential is really limitless and you know, in the past, you would have to spend 2,000 dollars or 4,000 dollars to send someone to a conference. They can register for the conference for 200.00 US and sit down and participate in the appropriate environment here."

The teleconference equipment has already been installed in majority of the important departments at the KHMH.

Channel 7