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Secure video link brings doctors closer to patients

Video Conferencing 23-07-18 (Photo John Bugeja)

The GHA has officially launched a secure video conferencing program following a successful trial.

The videoconferencing capabilities will allow GHA clinicians and patients to access a range of overseas consultants without having to travel from Gibraltar.

Consultants and clinicians across the world will in theory become accessible, although the focus at present will be on practitioners located in the UK and Spain.

The software, which is similar in practice to Skype, aims to reduce the need where possible for patients to travel abroad.

The new system, under the instruction of the Minister for Health Neil Costa, has been implemented into the GHA by Consultant Paediatrician Dr Annie Dai and Director of IT Heath Watson.

“The ability to have consultations via video link has been implemented, principally, for the convenience of our patients and to entirely remove, whenever possible, the inconveniences and stresses of travel to the UK or Spain,” Mr Costa said.

He added that other departments are also making use of this new technological solution across the GHA, including Human Resources as part of its recruitment efforts.

This provides savings in travel and accommodation, “which we can reinvest into other areas,” Mr Costa said.

The new system allows a discussion to take place between clinicians and the patient as if “they are all in the same room” and is done in real time.

Therefore, this eliminates some paper work concerning referral and appointments, making the system more efficient.

As well as being able to view each other over a video link, the technology enables clinicians at both ends to view and share images, such as X-rays, together with any other information that can be displayed on their own computer screen.

Dr Dai gave a demonstration of this when she held a videoconference with a colleague who was located at the PCC.

She gave a detailed run down of an x-ray taken of a six-hour-old baby, explaining the various medical procedures that had been undertaken.

The system is ‘cloud based’ which enables anyone with a computer and internet access it. The GHA has at present 20 licences and will invest in more in the future confirms Mr Watson.

“We are always looking at ways that technology can improve the services the GHA provides to patients and clinicians,” Mr Watsaon said.

“With the advances in videoconferencing technologies, together with much higher internet speeds than were available in the past, this videoconferencing solution was identified by the team as a very effective way to improve our service to our patients.”

“The majority of work undertaken by IT teams is generally in the background and unseen, but this is a very visible example of how the work of a very dedicated and skilled IT team can bring tangible benefits to the delivery of patient care.”

The software, created by WebEx, provide high levels of security including end-to-end encryption.

This means that the WebEx cloud does not decrypt the media as it would do for normal communications, and only the end user who receives the information can see it.

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