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Emergency specialists linked with regional Australians

02 August, 2006

Telstra and CSIRO have announced an agreement to provide hospitals with a tele-health solution that could help ease emergency specialist shortages in regional Australia.

The licensing agreement enables Telstra to bring CSIRO's Virtual Critical Care Unit (ViCCU®) to market using its Government IP broadband network - connecting clinical specialists in major hospitals with staff and patients in country hospitals.

Dr Alex Zelinsky, director of CSIRO's ICT Centre, said that ViCCU®'s unique combination of multiple high quality video, audio and data streams allowed the specialist to see and talk to the patient, view scanned test results and instruct staff who were undertaking emergency medical examinations and treatments.

"ViCCU® was developed in consultation with trauma specialists at Nepean Hospital and has been piloted by Sydney West Area Health Service over the past two years," says Dr Zelinsky.

Designed to allow emergency patients at Blue Mountains Hospital to be treated locally rather than transferred to the metropolitan based Nepean Hospital - ViCCU® aims to give patients at Katoomba the benefit of around-the-clock access to emergency specialists at Nepean Hospital.

ViCCU® also enables quick diagnosis for patients who do require transfer to metropolitan hospital for highly specialised care.

Telstra's managing director of convergent solutions and sales, Lynda O'Grady, said Telstra was the only company in Australia with the experience and network reach and reliability capable of delivering CSIRO's innovation to the health sector.

"Without customer confidence in the solution and brand many of Australia's great inventions remain prototypes in research labs," O'Grady said.

"Telstra's strength is in its relationships and network reach across regional Australia and we are proud that we can put this to good use to help save lives."

The development of ViCCU® was funded by the Department of Communications Information Technology and Arts through the Centre for Networking Technology for the Information Economy (CeNTIE) project and SWAHS.

Telstra plans to have a solution available to hospitals around Australia by late 2006.