January 11, 2014
ESA-Sponsored Device Can Provide Long-Distance Medical Care To Remote Areas
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
A new portable device capable of monitoring a patient’s vital signs and relaying data to emergency medical personnel via communications satellites allows people living in even the most remote corners of the world to receive quality treatment, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced Friday.
The unit, which is known as the Tempus Pro, combines the diagnostic facilities found in standard hospital-issue monitoring devices with extensive two-way communication technology. The compact, durable and portable device was developed by UK firm Remote Diagnostic Technologies (RDT) with financial support from the ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems, the agency explained in a statement.
The Tempus Pro comes equipped with 3G global system for mobile communication (GSM) and global positioning system (GPS) technology, as well as wi-fi, bluetooth and ethernet connectivity. It can use available VSAT facilities to exchange voice, video, medical data and GPS positioning, and can be connected to external instruments such as digital stethoscopes, video laryngoscopes, contact temperature sensors and USB ultrasound probes.
RSA teamed up with multinational medical and travel security services firm International SOS in order to demonstrate that the unit could work in real-life conditions over a six-week period in Algeria and Nigeria. International SOS provides medical and security services for businesses and large organizations, providing medical care with the assistance of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers in 35 different countries.
“Initially, participants were slightly skeptical of the idea of telemedicine,” explained Dr. Arnaud Derossi of International SOS. “However, they were quickly won over by the Tempus Pro. By the end of the six-week period, they were extremely positive about the possibilities it offers. The key to the unit’s success is that it is a fully functional, hospital-grade vital signs monitor.”
“On top of that, it offers very useful communications facilities,” he continued, adding that the organization is usually active in regions where there are poor roads and security challenges that force them to use expensive, difficult to arrange air evacuations. “Often it is simply a matter of a medical practitioner in the field wanting to get a second opinion from a colleague. At times, a remote consult can even save an unnecessary medical evacuation.”
According to the team that developed the Tempus Pro, their observations indicate that it takes trained medical professionals less than an hour to learn the unit’s basic functions. The company also offers a version known as the Tempus IC, which is a less advanced model especially designed for people without medical background.
The Tempus IC is usually purchased by airlines and cruise ships, where non-medical staff members can use them to treat passengers in an emergency. RDT’s project manager Mark Williams said that there has been a tremendous amount of interest in the product, and that the Tempus IC has already sold over 1,000 units to date.
ESA Technical Officer Arnaud Runge added that the Tempus Pro “is a fully-certified medical device which has been validated with an end-to-end operational service. ESA is highly active in health and life sciences, supporting some such 160 projects during the past 10 years, easily half of which have been telemedicine applications.”