A Vision Becomes Reality

by Tanja Berbalk

December 7, 2012 | At Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, a simple video-conferencing system revolutionized the way pediatric cardiology is practiced throughout Sweden.

 

A sparsely populated country like Sweden needs intelligent healthcare solutions. How can the best healthcare that the country can offer be brought to remote areas? Bo Lundell, MD, head of the Pediatric Cardiology Department at Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital, had an idea about this. His department is the center of pediatric cardiology in this region, covering two million inhabitants in the Stockholm area and treating 300 inpatients and 7,000 outpatients per year. Lundell and his team have always discussed all kinds of heart problems with the other 34 pediatric cardiology teams in Sweden, until recently over the phone. But the hospitals mainly examine their patients using ultrasound systems, which usually produces videos. “Motions cannot be described over the phone. And especially in acute cases, sending files takes too much time,” says Lundell. He purchased a standard, off-the-shelf video-conferencing system and set up a communication center with monitors, cameras, microphones, and high-speed Internet to be able to access files in real-time.
 

The challenges

The biggest challenge of the project was to equip a total of 34 children’s hospitals with identical and compatible video-conferencing systems. The future conferencing system had to transfer high resolution images at high frame rates and take two data streams with up to 60 images per second. For funding, Lundell found a partner in the Swedish Heart and Lung Foundation. A doctor at every hospital needed to be trained to run the system and do the technical maintenance, and the system had to be used for children with heart problems only. Another prerequisite was to use the proprietary healthcare network to meet data security regulations. Soon after Lundell’s initial idea, the Swedish conferencing network in pediatric cardiology named “Gertrud” was born.

 

New ways of communication
The system offers new ways to share and increase expert knowledge. If anyone in the network needs consulting on a complicated case, the doctor in charge can call his or her colleagues in Stockholm or elsewhere in Sweden. Lundell also organizes periodical conferences with all 34 children’s hospitals to discuss new and significant cases from which everyone can learn. The system can be a valuable tool to get a fast diagnosis, determine treatment, and prepare the patient’s transportation. Lastly, the implementation of the videoconferencing network streamlines workflows, making the entire Swedish healthcare system more efficient.

Key benefits

  • Nationwide videoconferencing system in all 34 pediatric facilities that are connected to syngo Dynamics for data reviewing and storage
  • Easier way to share knowledge
  • More efficient healthcare system
  • Improved quality of life
  • Equality in treatment, regardless how remote the patients may live
     

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The outcomes achieved by the Siemens customers described herein were achieved in the customer's unique setting. Since there is no "typical" hospital and many variables exist (e.g. hospital size, case mix, level of IT adoption) there can be no guarantee that others will achieve the same results.