Award opens eyes to Remote-I

The CSIRO's Remote-I tele-ophthalmology project has picked up another gong, this time a merit award at the 2011 Asia-Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) Awards, held in Thailand recently.

The APICTA award follows Remote-I's win in the eHealth category at the iAwards earlier this year.

It also won the Victorian Government Inspiration iAward, the highest company honour bestowed at the national iAwards.

APICTA is a network of 16 member-economies and provides an international awards program to showcase innovation, creativity and excellence in ICT in the Asia-Pacific region.

Created by the Australian eHealth Research Centre (AeHRC), a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government, Remote-I delivers remote diagnosis and treatment to the doorsteps of under-served communities in rural and remote Australia.

The service, which is sponsored by the WA Government's Pilbara Development Commission, helps eliminate preventable blindness with early screening, clinical decision support and treatment programs delivered using video-conferencing and mobile technologies.

Remote-I has been successfully trialled in the Pilbara region, where the mining industry has created demand for emergency treatment of injuries at mine sites and where diabetic retinopathy is a major cause of blindness in indigenous communities.

Dr Yogesan Kanagasingam, research director of the AeHRC, said the system eliminates the need for expensive transportation of patients and specialists from metropolitan hospitals and enables care within communities.

“Currently, residents in the Pilbara region have to wait for a visiting ophthalmologist for eye assessment or are required to travel long distances to participate in screening programs,” Dr Kanagesingam said.

“This is a significant deterrent. Tele-eye care has proven to be a valid and accurate method of ophthalmic assessment but perhaps more importantly it means that more people seek treatment because they don’t have to travel far away from their communities to seek help.”

Remote-I can be operated by nurses and primary care providers wherever they are located. It includes automated disease diagnosis, real-time video conferencing, store-and-forward telemedicine and advanced imaging to visualise disease progress.

The system targets adult screening for diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, childhood vision screening, and assessment of ophthalmic emergencies.

“Remote-I enables electronic health records to be part of telemedicine consultation and empowers remote doctors and nurses to diagnose disease before there is irreversible damage,” Dr Kanagesingam said.

“Patient data can be entered in the system by regional and remote health-care workers for assessment by metropolitan based ophthalmologists.”

He said the system had attracted the attention of two major international sponsors following the iAwards. Negotiations with the sponsors are at an early stage and CSIRO could not reveal their names, but Kanagesingam since winning the award the centre had received enquiries from many countries seeking solutions to eye care in remote areas, including China, India, Fiji and the US.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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