When you’re a scientist doing your work thousands of miles away from civilization, it can be a bit intimidating to think about what might happen if someone gets injured or sick. For United States scientists working in the South Pole, the isolation can be even more severe, spending long winters completely cut off from the rest of the world.
These scientists also know that while they may not be able to go to a doctor’s office when they get ill, they can use Polycom’s RealPresence Video Solutions to gain access to a telemedicine network that is stations some 9,000 miles away from them.
Polycom has long been known as one of the top companies in the world when it comes to open standards-based UC and collaborations technology. This RealPresence solution is being used by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), and helps to support one of the largest telemedicine networks in the world with 110,000 patient consults and interactions per year.
It is when talking about getting telemedicine to environments like the ones people have to endure in the South Pole that telemedicine solutions really underline their own importance.
“Our specialists help provide the second tier of care that’s difficult or impossible for ‘doctors on ice’ to handle themselves,” said Dr. Scott Parazynski, director and chief medical officer at UTMB’s Center for Polar Medical Operations, which has provided telemedicine services to polar stations since 2003. “It’s incredibly expensive to transport a person to or from the continent, and in the middle of winter it’s physically impossible to get people off of the South Pole. So if you can remotely diagnose and treat the patient, and then supervise his or her care, you’re much better off.”
While Dr. Parazynski says medical issues are relatively rare, even out in the South Pole, having the ability to consult over long distances instantly gives potential patients peace of mind in those cold winter months.
Edited by Braden Becker