Thursday, January 26, 2012

Students Bring Health Care to Underserved Patients - IEEE - The Institute

In remote areas, access to a medical specialist usually means waiting months for an appointment and traveling hundreds of kilometers. For example, in northern Brazil, the country’s least inhabited area, a sick person on Marajó Island must travel anywhere from 12 to 24 hours by boat to Belém, the capital of Pará State, to find the nearest hospital. Regular checkups are practically impossible.
The problem can be especially acute for an expectant mother, who should get four periodic ultrasounds to determine the health of her fetus during her pregnancy, according to the World Health Organization.
A group of IEEE student members from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, developed a telemedicine system that can help. With the system, which is outfitted with a video camera and microphone, physicians at remote health centers perform examinations that are guided by specialists at distant hospitals. The specialists analyze the results—in real-time—as video and audio of the procedure is sent using a broadband-over-power-line (BPL), satellite, or Internet connection.

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