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Telemedicine – harnessing the power of research networks for surgical training

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Telemedicine - remote training of surgeons

For University of Adelaide Clinical Associate Professor and gastroenterologist Rajvinder Singh, performing an endoscopy for a live audience for medical training purposes is fairly routine, but for the Lyell McEwin hospital, beaming the operation to an audience located thousands of miles away in Japan was a first.

A/Prof. Singh was one of several surgeons invited to remotely demonstrate endoscopy techniques at the 87th congress of the Japan Gastroenterological Endoscopy Society held in Fukuoka Japan in May. The demonstrations were organised by Telemedicine Development Center of Asia (TEMDEC).

For several years AARNet has enabled major Australian teaching hospitals to take part in the TEMDEC project, led by Dr Shuji Shimizu from Kyushu University Hospital in Japan. This project, running since 2002, facilitates remote training of surgeons, sharing of knowledge and the spread of best practice across the Asia-Pacific region, and more recently globally, by using research and education networks.

Research networks provide the reliable high-performing capabilities for delivering the high quality imagery required for teaching surgical procedures and techniques.

In partnership with SA Health, the South Australian Broadband Research & Education Network (SABRENet), a fibre-optic broadband network linking major research and education sites in metropolitan Adelaide,  connected the Lyell McEwin Hospital to a high-speed 1Gbps AARNet research network link from Adelaide to Japan.

Research network connectivity enabled Dr Singh to demonstrate endoscopy-imaging techniques on two patients with different upper gastro tract conditions via high definition video in real time, simulating the experience of being physically present for the audience located thousands of miles away.

“They (the society) select certain techniques and technologies used to treat conditions not commonly seen in Japan, as well as the people with the expertise to demonstrate them,” said A/Prof Singh, adding that the opportunity was an honour and recognised the world-leading research and work of The University of Adelaide and Lyell McEwin Hospital’s gastroenterology department in the detection and treatment of precancerous conditions.

He said the audio and video transmission over the research network infrastructure was seamless.

“This event has opened the door for new opportunities for the hospital to connect with medical centres around the world, to exchange ideas and improve outcomes for patients, not just in gastroenterology, but all fields of medicine.”

 


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