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Polycom Boosts Telemedicine Programs in Ontario

We all want to reduce health care costs, right?

We all want to reduce health care costs, right?

To the north, in Ontario, they’re running one of the most extensive distance health and medicine operations in the world. Boosted by gear from Polycom, the Ontario Telemedicine Network includes more than 1,500 video systems and facilitated more than 53,000 clinical consultations and more than 12,000 education and training session last year, according to OTN estimates.

Currently telehealth applications include real-time consultations between specialists and patients; a telestroke program, which connects stroke neurologists to emergency rooms to help evaluate time-critical patient needs; mental health evaluations and treatment; and nedical care within correctional facilities. Healthcare practitioners and health system professionals also use the OTN network to gain access to an active program of educational and administrative events.

The OTN system combines the Polycom Converged Management Application (CMA), a comprehensive video network management system; Polycom CMA Desktop, a scalable, PC-based desktop videoconferencing tool; and the Polycom Video Border Proxy (VBP) line of network-aware firewall traversal systems, which work in conjunction with existing firewall infrastructure to allow seamless and secure video calling between networks.

Check out a video from OTN on telehealth here:

“Demand for telehealth services in Ontario is outstripping supply even with our growth rates of between 20 to 40 percent a year,” said Ron Riesenbach, vice president of emerging business, OTN. “There are approximately 150,000 healthcare professionals in the province. We service several thousand of them, but we have many more thousands yet to connect. To date, providing greater access has been time consuming. Deployments require a lot of coordination and onsite delivery to install the video systems, the networks and the routers needed to access our VPN overlay network.”

The standards-based offering delivers high-quality visual communication, including the ability to share video, audio and content from medical devices, and features seamless interoperability with other standards-based videoconferencing solutions.

The Polycom system also fights network congestion and packet loss with its Lost Packet Recovery (LPR), is a forward error-correction technology that helps minimize the impact of network congestion and packet loss—especially beneficial in calls with non-Polycom systems.

“There are numerous potential applications for telehealth and interest is growing because it delivers significant, tangible benefits, including improving access to quality care, improving efficiency and the distribution of clinical expertise, enhancing education and training, and helping lower overall healthcare costs,” said Dr. Deborah Jeffries, Polycom director of healthcare markets. “In fact, the President of the United States has referenced successful telehealth programs like the Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania in several recent speeches as examples of more efficient, cost-effective healthcare models. This recognition is reinforced by new Federal funding programs that encourage telehealth for hospitals and community clinics.”

OTN is initially connecting 300 users with the new Polycom solution and plans to add thousands of additional sites next year. Officials anticipate the expanded network will also expand the applications for telehealth.

The Polycom CMA Desktop is also a key component of OTN’s pandemic response planning for the current H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus.

Polycom is showing the tehnolgies at the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) Third Annual Mid-Year Meeting, Sept. 23-25 in Palm Springs, Calif.

There’s more on health care visualization technologies here in the September issue of Government Video. And read ho Polycom is saving money for governments in other ways, like with the Michigan Department of Corrections here.

Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN)