Hospitals and clinics in Australia’s remotest areas will benefit from the latest in diagnostic medical imaging based on a $1.2 million virtual private network (VPN) rolled out by Optus and national medical imaging company I-Med in August 2002.
The VPN connects hospitals and clinics, enabling them to transmit digital 3D radiology images within a secure and managed Internet-based network. A virtual network is more cost effective than a traditional network, as users do not have to pay to own or lease dedicated lines, but can be connected wherever there is an Internet connection.
Radiologists based in major medical centers throughout Australia are able to view digital 3D images from rural hospitals and respond with a diagnosis to medical staff online – a process described as teleradiology.
With 1.5MB per second transmission and data prioritizing capability, massive radiological images can be transmitted quickly over the Optus network without impacting the performance for other users and applications.
CT scans using the latest equipment are complex and can be made up of up to 1400 separate images. These images can then be combined to create digital 3D models, which are rotated or viewed as a “virtual fly through” of body structures and organs for faster and more accurate diagnosis.
Teleradiology over a VPN will have an immediate impact on patient care as digital X-rays and three dimensional CT scans can be transmitted in minutes. For smaller and regional practices that do not have onsite radiologists, this will save precious time, eliminating the need to courier X-ray film or transport patients.
Already 39 clinics are connected to the I-Med VPN with plans to extend to 110 sites throughout Australia. In addition, dial up connections have been provided to 33 locations nationally to service mobile doctors.
Hosted at Optus’ Sydney data center, the VPN is monitored 24 hours a day, ensuring remedial action is taken within five minutes if a fault occurs anywhere in Australia.
See also: Australia – Tele-conferencing, -working, -medicine.
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