Experienced endoscopists at the Karolinska University Hospital perform more than 800 endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedures annually.

The Karolinska Institutet accounts for over 40 per cent of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden.   The Innovation Centre at Karolinska University has established a telemedicine development unit which designed the program as a way to help improve the skills and confidence of the surgeons in the regional hospitals throughout Sweden, while providing the highest quality patient care via access to scarce expertise.

The project is currently conducted by clinical staff based at two centres in Sweden, with plans to develop this further to other regional district hospitals.

Polycom HDX-6000 media centre

The Karolinska University Hospital has a team of four consultant surgeons available to observe the operating room at Visby District Hospital on the island of Gotland, by making use of the real-time video provided by Polycom’s desktop HDX 4500 system.

Visby District Hospital was selected for the project because it is the only hospital on the island and serves 57,000 inhabitants. The hospital carries out approximately 75 ERCP procedures annually; in around two thirds of these procedures, the examination is overseen by an experienced endoscopist from the Karolinska University Hospital over a Polycom RealPresence video link.

Visby Hospital endoscopists classified the teleguided mentoring as a crucial factor to the successful outcome in approximately half of the operations and the continued use of teleguided mentoring has improved the overall cannulation rate at the district hospital from 85 per cent to 99 per cent. Teleguided mentoring has also helped reduce procedure-related complications.

“Providing patients in remote rural areas the same quality healthcare as urban areas is a challenge. The video supported ERCP project addresses this challenge using video technology from Polycom,” said Kristina Groth, associate professor at MID/CSC/KTH responsible for telemedicine development at the Innovation Centre at Karolinska University Hospital.

“Our telemedicine systems have reached the level where connecting and collaborating with remote surgeons over video is part of an informal daily, routine practice. This is important not only when optimizing professional results, but also when patient safety aspects, related legal issues, and data security dimensions are considered.”

Building on the success of this project, the university has also used Polycom video collaboration solutions successfully to provide video imaging for esophageal and duodenal stenting, thereby avoiding conventional palliative operations.

To extend these cutting-edge telemedicine advances in healthcare to other institutions and many more patients, Karolinska University Hospital is currently developing a business plan to offer telemedicine as a service to hospitals across Sweden.

In addition, the university is using video collaboration in other use cases and business processes, for example to conduct multi-disciplinary meetings in areas such as oncology, and to improve communication internally and externally across the campus.

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