Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Empowers Care Teams with Microsoft Technology
One pioneering medical group looked at the rate of infant blindness in Armenia, which was 3x the rate of the US and other Western countries, and asked, how can we help?
One pioneering medical group looked at the rate of infant blindness in Armenia, which was 3x the rate of the US and other Western countries, and asked, how can we help? How can we eliminate preventable blindness in Armenia and neighboring rural areas? How can we empower/educate doctors in third world countries about complex blinding diseases in a cost-effective manner without compromising on quality care?
As the Director of the Retina Institute in The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Dr. Thomas C. Lee, world renowned pediatric retina surgeon, joined the Armenia EyeCare Project and took on this monumental challenge. Dr. Lee and team of doctors traveled to Armenia to provide assessment, care and programming. The need to further train remote care teams became remarkably clear. Quite simply, there were not enough surgeons available with the specialized knowledge required to provide life-changing eye surgeries.
To provide care to 1000+ infants and children, area surgeons needed to be trained to higher level of competency in this medical specialty. Another critical piece of the puzzle was that some of these sight-saving surgeries for premature infants with certain retinal conditions must take place within 48hrs of their birth. The lack of trained surgeons meant that these infants might miss their window of opportunity, thereby changing the course of their life forever.
With a sense of urgency and their drive to provide quality care to children who were needlessly going blind, Dr. Lee sought out alternatives to current training protocols. Under the traditional model, training surgeons was not only expensive, but also challenging to the time constraints and resources of the supervising doctors.
CHLAMG was faced with a challenge: How do we take a specialized medical expert and extend his reach to remote corners of the world to provide specialized care and training to countries lacking in medical expertise? The answer: interactive telemedicine.
Faced with the challenge of remote surgical training, Dr. Lee sought help in assessing technology solutions available to him. He enlisted the help of SADA Systems, a Microsoft National Solutions Provider, to advise on solutions available to address their specific challenge with cost and compliance in mind. SADA led Dr. Lee to Microsoft’s collaboration and communication platform, Skype for Business Online. Bridging 7000 miles in the blink of an eye, SfB allows a visionary program to deliver state of the art medical care to children in a remote, developing country through video conferencing and content sharing capabilities.
Using Skype for Business and Polycom videoconferencing endpoints, Dr. Lee can view the actual surgery in real-time and communicate “Face to Face” with the surgical team. He does not have to travel across the world or take extended time away from his own practice. Instead, he’s able to share his expertise with doctors in Armenia from his home or his hospital. In addition, the retina scan images and related diagnosis will be hosted in OneDrive for Business, making it possible for doctors to collaborate and reference past surgeries for training purposes. Under current methodology, surgeons are trained through a direct apprentice approach – in the same room, on the same patient. A full-time faculty member is needed in person for a substantial length of time. A cloud platform allows for remote access to an operating room with no geographic barriers. Crowd sourcing the surgical training in this manner cuts costs, reduces strain on resources and expedites the process.
The disruptive and innovative nature of this pairing of technology and medicine is revolutionary. It allows surgeons to be proficient and successful in addressing rare and specialized diseases in remote countries, similar to Retinopathy of Prematurity epidemic in Armenia. Every 5 seconds a child goes blind in the world. Through the use of Microsoft technologies, CHLAMG is helping change that.
Results and Benefits
Since adopting the use of Skype for Business in 2016, Dr. Lee has been able to remotely train two surgeons, and has observed four surgeries in Armenia live from his office in California. The four children who benefitted from this treatment now have a better chance at a full life with vision. Patient capacity has increased from zero to four and the ability to remotely train additional surgeons extends patient capacity exponentially. Access to medical care for children in a remote country is now more of a reality than it ever has been.
The cloud-based platform that Skype for Business Online provides is an ideal solution for CHLAMG. Implementation has been smooth, and the technology is reliable and efficient. Scaling up from the current patient capacity will allow for vision care to extend to the remote corners of Armenia, and to neighboring countries. Innovative use of Microsoft technology tools allows care teams separated by thousands of miles to collaborate effectively and successfully. As a result, the ultimate goal of eliminating preventable blindness and making eye care accessible to all children can be realized. Highly specialized medical treatment can be accessible to remote care centers, in rural communities, in remote countries.
Opening up even further possibilities, in its next phase of integration, SADA Systems will enable Skype for Business real time language translation with 9 languages in real-time, and 60 languages for speech to text translation, affording a more seamless communication with virtual training of care teams, eliminating the need for a translator where language barriers exist.
For crowd sourcing surgical training, this technological advance makes world-renowned experts accessible and available to all shifting the paradigm and affording the possibility to truly take this program global. The vision of the doctors at CHLAMG can be fully realized, and reach to the far corners of the earth, where high quality medical care has simply not existed.
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