Mobile phone medical system processing tsunami infection victims

Mobile phone medical system processing tsunami infection victims

Summary: An Australian medical team's use of a mobile phone-based diagnosis system is bearing dividends in the tsunami-devastated Indonesian region of Banda Aceh, with 70 patients processed to date.The all-Queensland team of health and emergency services professionals, known as "Team Foxtrot", left on Tuesday to give medical services to victims of the tsunami disaster using the "LifeMedic" mobile system.

SHARE:
An Australian medical team's use of a mobile phone-based diagnosis system is bearing dividends in the tsunami-devastated Indonesian region of Banda Aceh, with 70 patients processed to date.

The all-Queensland team of health and emergency services professionals, known as "Team Foxtrot", left on Tuesday to give medical services to victims of the tsunami disaster using the "LifeMedic" mobile system.

LifeMedic is being used by doctors in Banda Aceh to send medical records and pictures of wounds back to Australia for instant diagnosis.

There have been an alarming number of infections among the survivors of the tsunami disaster and that figure is rising.

According to Lisa Schulz, coordinator for the LifeMedic project, 70 patients have been diagnosed using the technology on the team's first day in Aceh.

"It's been good so far, a lot of doctors there are specialists. If there is a specialty area like spinal injury, that information gets relayed back from any of the 50 mobile phones there. When they take photos of the injuries, the photos get relayed back every 6 minutes via satellite because there are no mobile phone towers in the area. The information is encrypted and turn up on the LifeMedic servers in Queensland's health government network," Schulz said.

Anyone of the 25,000 Queensland health professionals can access the database and give advice on the wound.

Schulz said there were hundreds of amputations going on every day that require immediate medical attention, especially since the team were still discovering villages where medical teams haven't reached before.

"There has never been anything like this before and there was no way of keeping track of patients before. But now we can put the patients' information and photo in the database [here in Australia]," Schulz said.

The team will leave behind equipment and remaining drugs they are carrying, including AU$241,500 in donated equipment presently linking Team Foxtrot with Queensland Health specialists in Australia. The equipment will be left with the Indonesian hospital staff as well as the Australian military that will be staying in the area after the three-month Team Foxtrot medical mission.

The equipment includes the state-of-the-art "Tac Pack" involving the satellite communications system and LifeMedic, which was developed by a Brisbane-based company around nine months ago.

"The system is among the first of its kind in the world to use mobile camera phones so that patient care can be delivered in the hospital or at any remote location. It will be linked by satellite phone through the Department of Emergency Services and Queensland Health network, for analysis or further opinion," Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said.

The Banda Aceh trip medical mission is the first overseas field test for LifeMedic, which has the potential to be used to monitor people with heart conditions in Australia.

Schulz said since the publicity about LifeMedic , various hospitals have been looking into the technology to see if mobile phones can be used in hospitals instead of the more expensive PDAs. Two hospitals are currently testing a way to turn mobile phones into an ECG machine by attaching a Bluetooth band around the patient's chest and transmitting the information to the hospital's server.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Health, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

1 comment
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Congratulations and what a fantastic service. Who ever would have thought that a mobile phone would be an important item in a First Aid Kit?

    On the commercial side it may be used by servicemen engaged in the service and repair of equipment in isolated areas especially, to feedback to 'inform' or to 'update' concerned others about onsite difficulties.

    For those engaged in emergency services it can literally be a lifesaver.
    anonymous