Monday, November 24, 2014

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U.Va. Health System, Swinfen Charitable Trust, Verizon Foundation Join to Accelerate and Expand Global Telemedicine Program

The Verizon Foundation, Swinfen Charitable Trust and the University of Virginia Health System are expanding an innovative telemedicine program into rural communities in India and the Philippines. This program will utilize mobile- and cloud-based technology that will connect top physicians around the world to doctors in these communities to assist them with patient diagnoses and care.

The program’s expansion will extend the reach of the U.K.-based Swinfen Charitable Trust, which currently uses telemedicine to connect clinicians at 260 hospitals in 68 developing countries, with more than 550 medical specialists around the world, including 68 at U.Va.

Verizon’s investment of more than $208,000 includes a Verizon Foundation grant and Verizon Cloud services. Verizon’s support will enable the telemedicine program to be used on mobile devices, making it easier and faster for doctors to share critical information with specialists.

For the first time, health care providers in resource-limited environments will be able to access the telemedicine system from mobile devices to communicate with specialists around the world. These highly secure and reliable solutions will enable fast transfer of information; the ability to accommodate multiple, simultaneous users; geographic information systems mapping; and other capabilities that will enhance the Swinfen Trust’s current telemedicine program.

Health care workers in developing countries who participate in the program will be able to send to expert medical specialists secure patient information – including medical images, X-rays and medical histories – through Verizon’s cloud-based service.

“A very large number of hospitals, clinics, doctors and medical workers in the developing world have no access to medical advice from specialists such as oncologists, neurologists or pediatric cardiologists,” said Lord Roger Swinfen, who founded the Swinfen Charitable Trust with his wife, Lady Pat Swinfen, in 1998. “Our telemedicine program is an invaluable tool for health care workers in the developing world who may not otherwise have anyone to consult about their patients’ specific cases.”

With the Verizon Foundation’s support, the trust plans to expand its services to providers and health care systems caring for patients in:

  • A community clinic in Garhwal, Uttarakhand, India.
  • A pediatric plastic surgery outreach program in Giridih, India, led by Dr. Thomas Gampper, vice chair of plastic surgery at the University of Virginia.
  • A small burns clinic in Zambales, Philippines.

The expansion of the telemedicine program will begin in June. Once implemented, more than 1,075 medical providers in the Swinfen network, serving thousands of patients, will have improved access to specialty consultative services.

Dr. Karen S. Rheuban, director of the U.Va. Health System’s Center for Telehealth and a trustee of the Swinfen Charitable Trust, said: “Telemedicine has the power to connect medical providers around the world, enabling their patients to receive the best possible treatment, regardless of where they live. We’re looking forward to working with our partners in India and the Philippines as well as others across the Swinfen network to aid them in caring for their patients.”

The Verizon Foundation has partnered with the Swinfen Charitable Trust and the U.Va. Health System since 2011, helping to bring their telemedicine program into seven countries.

Anthony Llompart, health care program director for the Verizon Foundation, said: “This collaboration leverages technology to extend the reach of expert specialty care for thousands of underserved patients around the globe. Technology can equalize access to quality health care and bridge the gap for health systems with limited resources. It is an ideal match for the focus of the Verizon Foundation.”

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