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Photos: Scottish NHS trials video checkups

Doctor, where?
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1 of 5 Julian Goldsmith/ZDNET

Doctor, where?

The Scottish Centre for Telehealth (SCT) in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) is trialling video conferencing technology from Cisco, called HealthPresence.

In 2005, representatives from NHS Grampian presented the "booth concept" at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh with universal approval from clinicians. Building on this concept, and also given that NHS Grampian has a very successful telemedicine support service for minor injuries to the local community hospitals, it was agreed that the world's first pilot of HealthPresence should be based in Aberdeen.

Dr Karyn Webster from the ARI, who is participating in the trial told silicon.com: "The support of healthcare delivery in remote and rural areas is a priority for the SCT, especially where the recruitment and retention of healthcare practitioners is proving difficult."

Photo credit: Cisco Systems

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2 of 5 Julian Goldsmith/ZDNET

The system pictured here is a non-live demonstration of the technology. It is thought the fully deployed system will be in booths situated in public areas at remote locations, such as police stations in small towns or villages, walk-in centres or supermarkets.

Dr Webster said: "At present some patients have to travel long distances in order to access health care. Care can be provided over the phone but with the introduction of video healthcare we can now interact with the patient (and their carer) in a fashion more in keeping with a face-to-face consultation. This allows us to pick up on non verbal cues and visually examine the patient."

Photo credit: Cisco Systems

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3 of 5 Julian Goldsmith/ZDNET

HealthPresence gives practitioners the ability to examine patients in detail. Eyes, ears and skin can be examined to a level that allows clinicians to confidently diagnose the patient's physiological state. This equipment requires a technician to be on-hand, but not a qualified GP.

Dr Webster said: "This system will improve efficiency. At present there is a lot of time spent travelling, either by the patient or the healthcare professional. By allowing access to healthcare locally in a way that is acceptable to patients and healthcare professionals we can provide a safe effective service with minimal inconvenience to either party."

Photo credit: Cisco Systems

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4 of 5 Julian Goldsmith/ZDNET

The equipment allows clinicians to examine a patient's physiology remotely, including blood pressure, temperature, weight, pulse rate and spirometry (measuring lung function).

According to ARI's own research, 40 per cent of patients seen by accident and emergency wards can be treated by other means.

Photo credit: Cisco Systems

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5 of 5 Julian Goldsmith/ZDNET

The HealthPresence system is being trialled until march 2008.

Dr Webster said: "The plan at this time is to collate the data, ensuring this is a safe and acceptable health care solution. Early indications are that this is the case. Once this has been done we will discuss the next phase of the project, including any potential roll out."

Photo credit: Cisco Systems

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