Pioneering ultrasound station a 'smart' idea
A co-lab teleconsultation station has been set up in the nearby Pengbu Neighborhood Medical Service Center of Jianggan District, as part of an experiment so residents don’t have to travel long distances for ultrasound treatment. It is the first of its kind in Zhejiang Province.
The station is running under the cooperation of the service center and Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital, a prestigious hospital, which is technologically supported by the Wisonic Medical Technology Company, an Internet enterprise in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.
When a doctor from the service center encounters any problems during an ultrasound inspection, they can ask for assistance through the teleconsultation station. A veteran doctor, from Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital, can then offer online face-to-face guidance and instructions.
Real-time dynamic information of the ultrasound is transmitted from the service center to the hospital, and doctors, from each end, can exchange their diagnostic ideas with each other on the platform.
“I act like a long-range hand for my counterpart at Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital,” says Fang Yin, a doctor from the ultrasound department of Pengbu Neighborhood Medical Service Center.
“In the past it would take nearly two hours on a bus to get medical examinations in top hospitals. Now, it takes only a few minutes on foot to have the same level of diagnosis,” said a patient surnamed Wu.
As a basic-level hospital in the neighborhood, the service center is not as strong in the medical examination field because of the shortage of clinical experience. In order to boost its own medical power and enhance the doctor’s professional skills, it initiated the co-lab experimental station and obtained support from Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital.
“Doctors’ skills rely on accumulated clinical experience. Big hospitals often have a high accuracy rate of examinations because they deal with miscellaneous diseases every day,” says Fan Xiaoming, director of the ultrasound department at Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital. “Many neighborhood hospitals hope to invite us to visit patients periodically, but we don’t have enough time to give extra medical service outside of our own workplace. Now, the new technology helps us resolve the problem.”
Teleconsultation is not a new conception, since online electrocardiography and radiology diagnosis was introduced years ago. Nonetheless, only pictures could be transmitted before because they did not have the technology.
As 4G and the Internet plus mode have matured in recent years, dynamic information is available to exchange through an online system. Using smart phones and other communication tools, the real-time ultrasound video and a patient’s body condition is shared.
Pengbu Neighborhood covers an area of 17.8 square kilometers with nearly 120,000 residents. The experimental station is hoped to relieve the burdens on top hospitals and offer convenience for nearby people. In the future, its mode will be applied to more and more neighborhoods.
In recent years, Jianggan District has launched a series of projects aiming at utilizing medical resources to the greatest degree and maximizing the cutting edge of technology. So far it has already invested nearly 40 million yuan (US$ 6.1 million) on these projects and established a special governmental department to take charge of them.
A pilot project in the Zhaolongkou Neighborhood is about to make up for a shortage of doctors.
A medical clinic has been established with one doctor, several nurses and “smart” medical machines. The community-based healthcare has backup support from some of the area’s larger hospitals. Patients can either visit the clinic for health checkups or have in-home visits if they have mobility problems.
It has trained a team of home health workers to do routine in-home medical checks, like blood pressure and other vital signs, for senior citizens. The data is uploaded into a “smart” machine and transmitted to the smartphones of doctors to assess. They stand ready to intervene if any data suggests an immediate health problem.