At a Glance
- Greatly Improved patient care
- Improved communications between health centers
- Increased effective productivity of healthcare
- Provided professional health care to rural areas
Albania launches nation-wide e-health education program to bring healthcare to rural patients.
Albanian Ministry of Health launches nation-wide telemedicine and e-health education for healthcare providers to expand rural patience outreach program.
The International Virtual e-Hospital (IVeH) Foundation is a non-profit organisation created to assist in rebuilding the public healthcare system in developing countries by introducing and implementing telemedicine, telehealth, and virtual educational programmes. IVeH is managed solely by its volunteers and governed by an international Board of Directors. Their objective is to train and educate healthcare providers of developing countries in the use and implementation of telemedicine, e-health and electronic libraries. After their incredible success in Kosova, they implemented a second programme in Albania which officially launched in September 2011.
The IVeH built the National Telemedicine Center as part of the Integrated Telemedicine and e-Health programme of Albania, in partnership with USAID, the Albanian Ministry of Health, the United States Department of Defense, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The programme is mostly founded by the United States Agency for Internation Development (USAID). The network consists of a National Telemedicine Center in the capitals of both Prishtina and Tirana, headquarters at the Mother Theresa Hospital, regional Telemedicine Centers in Shkoder, Durresi, Vlora and Korqa, three other hospitals plus the Regional Autistic Center of Albania. The Albania foundation of the national telemedicine and e-health network addresses the issue of rural access to patients care along with medical education for health professionals.
From Conception to Delivery
The Albania Telemedicine Programme is modeled on the existing and successful programme in the Republic of Kosova. Led by professor Rifat Latifi, founder of the IVeH, it was developed and operational within two years. For IVeH, it was easy to utilize the trusted partners which helped make the Kosova programme successful and therefore the Polycom RealPresence Platform as the collaboration solution, and the central element of the project. The IVeH requirements are specific as they need to collaborate and hold video meetings within their network, and most importantly with hospitals and healthcare professionals outside of their network, all over the world. Professor Latifi explains their choice of the Polycom RealPresence Platform, “The Polycom RealPresence Platform delivers the flexible architectural design and infrastructure which is vital to our project. We need a solution that is simple to manage, and interoperability is crucial”.
The Polycom Platform
For this project, the platform is composed of the Polycom RealPresence Collaboration Server, the Polycom RealPresence Resource Manager, The Polycom RealPresence Virtualisation Manager ( DMA), the Polycom Recording and Streaming Server (RSS), Polycom Video Border Proxy (VBP), and several Polycom HDX room Telepresence solutions. The endpoints are located in telemedicine centers, hospitals, the center for Autism and health centers throughout the country.
Main functions of the Polycom Platform for IVeH
The Polycom RealPresence platform has 3 main purposes. The first being remote medical care. Many departments of the Tirana University Hospital center ‘Mother Theresa’ are using the telemedicine network to consult with partner hospitals in different countries in Europe and the USA. Health professionals are also able to examine patients in any other telemedicine centers in Albania and Kosova, giving patients from all over the country access to experts.
The second is the Electronic Library. The telemedicine center is equipped with 20 computers and has access to the World Health Organisation data base HINARI (Health Inter Network Access to Research Initiative). It allows full text access to a large number of scientific journals, books and live surgery recordings.
The third is the Distance Medical Education. This continuous programme is one of the most important components of the Integrated Telemedicine and e-Health Programme of Albania. It consist of lectures, seminars, conferences, workshops and other education events organised nationally and regionally which are transmitted via the Polycom RealPresence Platform to all the centers facilitating and increasing knowledge sharing.
Beyond these 3 main functions, the platform is also supporting prevention and wellness, by bringing medical care to rural and remote locations. The solutions also allow for multi-disciplinary team meetings, between medical staff, local government authorities, and other key –project individuals.
Professor Latifi’s project is based on his IBOT strategy: Initiate, Build, Operate, and Transfer. The first phase of the project includes the establishment of basic infrastructure, info-structure, policies and procedures. Training and education is an imperative component of the programme, and is accomplished using the Polycom platform.
Professor Latifi confirms “The most important part of the programme is the continuous education of the local health professionals to keep them autonomous, the best way to do this is with the Polycom RealPresence platform”. The priority for the Albania project is to implement innovative ways for expanding the distance medical care program for different medical disciplines.
Future Plans for the IVeH
The IVeH is in the process of implementing national telemedicine programs in Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Gaza, Palestine, Cape Verde, Tanzania, Nigeria and Southeast Asia. Each of these programmes have been established and/or are supported by Ministries of Health and/or organisations that play key roles in their regions in both healthcare and education and funded by different donors.
IVeH has been rewarded with the Computerworld Honors Programs, “21st Century Achievement Award”. Computerworld Honors Program recognises the organisation which creates and uses information technology to promote and advance the public welfare, benefit society and change the world for the better. IVeH does just that, and continues one country at a time. The motivation for the award was the elaboration of the IBOT strategy and its successful implementation in Kosova and Albania. Then, in December 2011, URAC (originally known as the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission) and the Care Continuum Alliance awarded to the IVeH, in recognition of its IBOT strategy, the 2011 “International Health Promotion Award” in the International Community Health category. Most recently, the IVeH and the seven telemedicine centers in Kosova received the 2011 “Visual Communications User Application Healthcare Award” at the Telepresence and Video Conferencing Editor’s Choice Awards ceremony.
Polycom is the global leader in standards-based unified communications (UC) solutions for telepresence, video, and voice powered by the Polycom RealPresence Platform. The RealPresence Platform interoperates with the broadest range of business, mobile, and social applications and devices. More than 400,000 organizations trust Polycom solutions to collaborate and meet face-to-face from any location for more productive and effective engagement with colleagues, partners, customers, specialists, and prospects. Polycom, together with its broad partner ecosystem, provides customers with the best TCO, scalability, and security for video collaboration, whether on-premises, hosted, or cloud-delivered.