In the view of continuous improvement we wanted to explore the possibilities to improve the management of health on offshore location (Kashagan Project) in Kazakhstan (Urgent and non-urgent medical cases). The scope of this program was to determine the feasibility of implementing tele-consultations and e-health based on the use of narrow and medium internet lines that are easily available and with relatively cheap technologies. With this scope, we launched pilot tele-consultation program creating communication bridge between an offshore operating barge (Castoro12) and a private multidiscipline clinic (Doctor Plus) located in Atyrau. The communication tools used to enable the data transfer between these two locations were Skype software, digital camera, web camera and 12 channels ECG.
Another aspect of the study was to monitor and verify the level of satisfaction of both users - doctors and patients/employees.
During this pilot program we carried out 34 consultations, 23 in synchronous (real time) mode and 11 in "store and forward" one. The last were performed as part of the Cardiovascular Diseases Prevention Program. Out of 23 multidisciplinary urgent and emergency medical cases 17 remained and completed their treatment offshore, while 5 patients had to be evacuated on shore, three of which were hospitalized.
This short and limited experience proved the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of telemedicine even when simple technology is used, and verified sufficient level of satisfaction of both medical personnel and employees/patients. This allows us to recommend wide use of technically simple tele-medical systems, combination of real time telecommunication with store-and-forward method, using narrow or medium bandwidth, based on Internet.
Search for multidisciplinary and certified medical canters with qualified medical personnel operating on 24/7 basis is recommended. In future, the rapid development of ICT opportunities will enable tele-consultation practices to be applied to other sites in remote and isolated areas.