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The Minsk District Becomes the First Pilot Site of a Partner Project on Telemedicine

A new step in the development of telemedicine has been taken under the UN Global Compact. The Minsk district has become Belarus’ first pilot site, where cellular communications technologies were applied in telemedicine.

A partner project of business, the state and UN agencies on the development of telemedicine in Belarusian regions was launched on March 27, 2008 at the meeting of a working group comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Health of Belarus, Belarusian Center for Medical Technology, Scientific and Research Institute of Oncology, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Mobile TeleSystems Ltd. (MTS), World Health Organization, and UNDP. The meeting resulted in adoption of a plan of action to provide medical services to population of Belarusian regions using the MTS cellular communications technologies.

“Telemedicine is an innovative and effective way of improving the health status of people in rural and remote areas by providing improved access to specialist care,” UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus, Antonius Broek, noted. “Development of telemedicine contributes to improving living standards and conditions, and, thus, to sustainable human development what is fully in line with the UN objectives. At the same time, this initiative is a result of joint efforts of the socially responsible private company, ministry of healthcare, the particular regional hospital, and UN agencies, taken under the auspices of the UN Global Compact.”

Cardiology is a medical specialty where provision of quick consulting services becomes a really life saving issue. Hence, MTS proposed to use cellular communications to transfer cardiograms for an expert analysis from areas lacking the necessary medical personnel. As the first charity step, MTS funded the procurement of a mobile telemedicine complex Cardian–PM for the Minsk central district hospital.

The readings of the cardiograph are digitalized and transferred via mobile phone used as a modem for the wireless Internet access supported by MTS. This way cardiograms are transferred to a special server and become available for a cardiologist.

The Cardian–PM complex installed in the Ratomka district hospital where no staff cardiologist is available allows to transfer data for a cardiologic expertise to the main medical center. The cardiologist’s functions are performed by Elizaveta Medvedskaya, head of the functional diagnosis section of the Minsk central district hospital. Her working place at the Minsk district hospital in Borovliany is equipped with the mobile Internet using the MTS Connect service. The hospital still lacks a separate Internet line, and an extra wire phone is always useful. It was MTS Connect that helped empty this phone for conversations and fax messages. Free Internet traffic and a phone for transmission of electrocardiograms was also provided by MTS, who is busy with searching for new pilot sites to continue the project.

“MTS is a leading mobile communications operator in Belarusproviding services to over 4.2 mln users,” said Vladimir Karpovich, the company’s General Manager. “MTS business has been socially responsible throughout the whole period of operation in Belarus. Environmental and technological security, quality customer services, social programmes for the personnel, and charity (sponsor) assistance are the company’s priorities.”

In view of the above, in July 2008 MTS joined the UN Global Compact. Since the GC provides an opportunity and a platform for development of multilateral projects, the company have set a goal to demonstrate in what ways telecommunications could contribute to improving the quality of life of population, removing barriers between cities and the countryside, implementing the governmental programmes on small town development. Telemedicine relies on advanced computer and telecommunications technologies. Interactivity, mobility and efficiency are its characteristic features. The MTS’ production, technical and intellectual potential in the sphere of telecommunications could be successfully used for implementation of a project in this sphere. The joint work and accumulation of international best practices and the most advanced Belarusian experience will allow the stakeholders to do a lot for people’s good.

Foto Vasily Semashko

For reference:

According to the WHO’s definition, telemedicine (absentia health care) is a practice of providing medical services in areas where distance is a critical factor. Services are provided with the help of ICTs after the necessary information for diagnosing, treatment and prevention of a disease has been received. Telemedicine is quite a new branch at the junction of several spheres: medicine, telecommunications, information technologies. An opportunity to provide highly qualified assistance to remote areas and significantly reduce the patients’ expenses is one of the major advantages of telemedicine.

 Telemedicine technologies are widely used in various medical specialties. Telemedicine consultations, telemedicine systems of dynamic monitoring, telesurgery and distant examination, teletraining (teleeducation), military and space telemedicine are among established areas of telemedicine application in a doctor’s practical work having their own technological peculiarities.

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 The Global Compact is an UN international initiative promoting the principles of corporate social responsibility and strengthening business cooperation for development. The GC in Belarus unites 36 businesses, public and state organizations forming the GC Belarusian national network. The objective of the Global Compact network is to promote the principles of social responsibility of business, react to urgent needs of the society, including the search for and application of new high quality technologies and methods of protection of the nation’s health.

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