Telemedicine provides sound and image communication for routine and emergency consultations between remote practitioners and centralised specialists. Telemedicine can contribute to constraining costs while ensuring equal access to health care services regardless of location. Experiences from telemedicine and remote teaching in rural Norway are applicable to remote oil installations.


The conditions and needs in North Norway are in many ways comparable to those experienced on remote oil and gas installations. We therefore argue that many of the solutions described in this paper could be successfully implemented within the oil and gas sector.

The paper is based upon the results from a project called Telemedicine in North Norway". The project has been conducted since 1989 in close collaboration between Norwegian Telecom Research, the University Hospital of Tromso and several counties in North Norway.

Telemedicine can he defined as, "The investigation, monitoring and management of patients and the education of patients and staff using systems which allow ready access to expert advice and patient information no matter where the patient or relevant information is located". Telemedicine systems enable audiovisual communication between expert medical centers and remotely located hospitals and general practitioners.

Developments in telemedicine are motivated by the need to constrain costs while ensuring equal access to health care services regardless of location. Northern Norway is sparsely populated over vast distances. Many communities are scattered on small islands and are dependent upon boat or helicopter for transport to larger communities providing health care services. The frequently extreme weather conditions compound the hazard and expense of transporting patients in need of medical -diagnosis and treatment. Experienced medical personnel are scarce and the overall cost of providing satisfactory health care is extremely high when transportation costs are included.

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