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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 January 2008, 13:57 GMT
Virtual health care gets UK trial
HealthPresence video conferencing system
Simple tests can be carried out in the video conferencing booth

Cutting edge telemedicine technology, that will allow medical staff to offer "virtual" health care, is being trialled at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

HealthPresence, a system developed by Cisco, links up doctors with patients through a video conferencing booth.

Blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, weight and lung function can be assessed at a distance in the booth if patients can not make appointments.

If the trial is successful, booths may be set up in locations across the UK.

Possible future locations for the mobile health suite could include schools, workplaces, shopping centres and even people's homes.

Effectiveness assessed

An attendant will be present to operate the video and audio technology for the patient.

It is claimed they will be particularly useful in rural areas and could offer health care outside of traditional doctors' surgery hours.

The trial, the first of its kind, has been set up by the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and NHS Scotland.

Staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary will first assess the effectiveness of the system along with the levels of patient satisfaction in a "room to room" trial. The safety and security of the information will also be checked.

A remote location for the second stage of the trial is currently being decided on.

'Convenient solution'

Gordon Peterkin, director of the Scottish Centre for Telehealth, claimed the system would help provide better patient care and use medical staff's time more efficiently.

"Solutions such as Cisco HealthPresence enable us to offer convenience for patients and service delivery efficiency for our doctors," he said.

"We look forward to drawing upon the results from this pilot to optimise our regional and national healthcare delivery resources."

Nick Augustinos, Cisco global healthcare solutions director, added: "Shortages of healthcare practitioners and increasing costs, combined with ageing populations, have put significant strains on health systems throughout the world.

"By using the network as a platform, Cisco has a key role to play in the delivery of safe, affordable and accessible healthcare."

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