The use of telemedicine in various settings has increased during the last decade, reflecting the technological development with the possibility to transfer large amount of data per second through fiber optic cables. Hence it has become possible to obtain HD quality images and sound, which must be recognized as a prerequisite for a well-functioning telemedicine setup. In the oil and gas industry, as well as in other public or private settings, activities in remote areas has triggered the need for implementing the best solutions available for optimizing the emergency preparedness and patient treatment, and minimizing patient risk. Telemedicine is an important tool in achieving this. Statoil has implemented telemedicine on all Statoil operated offshore installations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), following an initial pilot project from 2007–2008. The setup involves a "Medical unit" with a computer and a large HD video screen, a smaller video conferencing unit for the hospital office, and 2 cameras; one ceiling mounted and one mounted on the "Medical unit". Some of the medical doctors on duty 24/7 also have access to a similar "Medical unit" on shore and "medical units" are also placed in 3 of the university hospitals in Norway which are located closest to the oil fields along the Norwegian coastline. The telemedicine equipment is compatible with the defibrillator/monitoring unit being used on the oil installations, and also other medical equipment is included in the setup, for instance an otoscope. Other equipment may be added when deemed necessary and beneficial for the medical services. Internal "Help and Support" is in place and troubleshooting is carried out in the same manner as for the rest of our Company IT-support. The telemedicine equipment is furthermore readily used for meetings and educational purposes, and to spread important medical information to many locations/installations simultaneously; which has been important during epidemic situations(Swine flu, noro virus etc).

Recently, we have also demonstrated that it is possible, using the existing telemedicine equipment, to successfully remotely guide a nurse offshore in focused ultrasound examinations, with the medical doctor/expert located onshore. The usefulness of ultrasound on the Norwegian continental shelf remains to be proven, but there is an evident potential for its use in remote settings with large distances to secondary or tertiary health care facilities.

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