Features April 2014 Issue

Beaming Down Satcom Surgeons

Remote Diagnostic Devices

A variety of portable systems have been developed to transmit data from remote medical diagnostic devices. For the past 10 years, RDT, manufacturer of Tempus medical equipment, has been developing monitors capable of sending data from at sea or in the air to doctors on land.

Yacht captains and airline pilots can now hook up a crewmember or passenger to a portable Tempus monitoring device, which collects data that would otherwise be gathered by emergency room personnelóblood pressure, ECG, pulse and respirationóand quickly transmit it. This allows doctors to better manage the incident and decide what steps to take. Without such a device, time is often wasted while those at the scene attempt to simultaneously monitor and relay the patientís vital signs to doctors.

The newest Tempus devices have been designed to integrate with onboard communications equipment. The system is already in place on some airlines.

In 2003, 50-year-old passenger Stephen Clarke developed chest pains while flying from Chicago to Manchester, England. The cabin staff used a Tempus device to record his vital signs and beamed the data by satellite to ground-based doctors in Arizona. The physicians diagnosed a heart attack and instructed flight attendants how to give emergency treatment. Clarke became the first commercial air passenger to have a live echocardiogram (ECG) recorded in-flight.

DigiGone, another firm offering medical monitoring devices for use in the field, combines a remote viewing station and encrypted communications software with portable diagnostic equipment to directly link to the patientís telemedicine service provider.

When it comes to compact, medical sensing devices built for rugged service, California-based Human Edge Technology is at the cutting edge. Its lightweight, user-friendly software and hardware solutions provide sensing and Satcom service in the most extreme environments. Human Edge has tested its gear first-hand on expeditions to the Himalayas, in the Amazon, Antarctica, and on ocean crossings.

The company offers an expedition communication package that includes a laptop, satellite phone with cables, and collapsible solar panels, all tucked into a Pelican case. Its Polar High-speed Data Package is designed to provide live video conferencing. The box weighs 25 pounds and costs about $6,000.

Human Edge founder Tom Sjogren said itís the only device of its kind operating in polar regions outside the Inmarsat satellite system footprint.

Next: The Future

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