Integrated Telemedicine Solution Supports Genavir Crew

Credit: Marlink
Credit: Marlink

By The Maritime Executive 11-19-2018 03:39:01

Genavir, the vessel operating arm of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (a.k.a. Ifremer) is using Marlink’s sophisticated crew health and safety management service, XChange Telemed, to minimize the impact of illness and injury on five ocean-going research vessels; Alis, Antea, L’Atalante, Pourquoi Pas? and Thalassa.

All five vessels are part of the French Oceanographic Fleet and were already equipped with Marlink’s customized Sealink VSAT. Now with XChange Telemed fully integrated, crew and scientists aboard benefit from a highly reliable direct link to medical experts on shore should they fall ill or suffer an injury.

Remote medical assistance is especially important for research vessels. In Genavir’s case, its ships are often chartered and deployed for two to three months at sea on a scientific mission without a port call. Previously, any serious medical conditions or injuries on board could entail a return to port, resulting in a premature end to the scientific mission.

By providing a high quality link to medical experts on shore, XChange Telemed can help to mitigate the need for returning to port for medical reasons, and contribute to the comfort, well-being and recovery of the patient while the vessel remains at sea.

Considering the public funding nature of many scientific missions, remaining at sea for the full duration is the only way to complete the planned research, as financial challenges would normally rule out restarting the project. Genavir chose XChange Telemed to avoid these circumstances and enable its vessel charterers to maximize their investment and time at sea.

XChange Telemed integrates a reinforced, vibration-proof hard-case with CE certified medical equipment for on board diagnostics by designated medical crew, an intuitive touch-screen user interface and High Definition (HD) camera, all of which seamlessly link with Marlink’s XChange communications management platform and Sealink VSAT to provide a direct live video and secure data connection to doctors on shore.

Medical diagnostic data taken from the medical instruments can be viewed remotely alongside the patient’s own medical file in the online and secure XChange Telemed web portal, ensuring the remote doctor has access to all pertinent information about the specific illness or injury, in addition to the patient’s medical history during video consultations.

Through integration with Sealink VSAT, XChange Telemed sessions are bandwidth prioritized to ensure high availability of service for connecting with medical staff ashore. This integration of application and network allows for greater control and optimization of the link on ship and ashore, ensuring fast data connectivity and best quality video, audio and HD images.

Providing the flexibility to integrate XChange Telemed into their existing welfare programs, for the first time in a maritime telemedicine service, customers can choose between utilizing remote medical assistance from compatible public Telemedical Maritime Assistance Service (TMAS) centers, or an appointed doctor or a private medical organization. This adds flexibility and is especially important for charterers who may already have existing medical support agreements in place.

“By combining live data from the on board medical kit and patient file with a live video link, XChange Telemed enables professional support from shore for trained medical personnel on board,” said Pierre Aldebert, QHSE Manager, Genavir. “It will help to diagnose conditions and develop treatments for crew members and scientists, which may enable our ships to remain at sea and complete their mission in the event of illness or injury.”

Genavir’s research vessels have been enjoying the high bandwidth provided by Marlink’s VSAT services for six years. Using a customized configuration, Sealink provides the speed and capacity needed for collaboration with colleagues on shore and the transfer of research data, in addition to flexibility that can accommodate special projects, such as the 2014 Night of the Abyss event.

For this educational event, Marlink was tasked with temporarily boosting bandwidth for a short period, enabling Ifremer scientists to conduct a live video broadcast and conference from the Pourquoi pas? research ship located in the mid-Atlantic. In addition to live video of presentations by scientists on board, the increased bandwidth also enabled a live stream of footage from an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle.

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