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A Cloud in the Tropics: Connecting Hospitals in the French West-Indies

Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana. All are tropical paradises; each is one of France’s 101 départements.

Doctors in the French West-Indies serve their patients to the best of their ability. But sometimes, the patients are simply not within reach. A new pilot program aims to shrink the gap between doctors and patients in the more isolated parts of the region.

tropics cloud

The economies of the French overseas departments (known as DOMS, départements d’outre mer) strongly depend on tourism and are famous for their idyllic climates. However Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana all experience difficulties that are common to small economies, and these end up impacting the way traditional healthcare can be delivered.

Several sections of each DOM’s population are isolated in remote locations and this results in a disparity in the quality and availability of healthcare across the region. Residents of the more accessible main cities like Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique, or Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe’s capital, experience a standard of healthcare that cannot always reach as far as the more isolated communities where up to 20% of the French West-Indies population live.1

The Cloud could change all that for the better. GE Healthcare’s Cloud Imaging system has been chosen by the Medical Imaging Antilles-Guyane group (IMAG), with the support of the French Ministry of Health, to provide a platform to help clinicians and patients to do away with the geographical and economic isolation that holds them apart, and bring them together with telemedicine and easier collaboration between healthcare professionals.

Yvon Marie-Sainte, General Manager of the GCS SIS-Martinique and IMAG Coordinator said: “This is a major investment to improve patient care and overall healthcare efficiency across the regions.  Many of the one million inhabitants of Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guyana are living in dispersed, remote areas, far away from established healthcare services. The online imaging platform means that our doctors will be able to receive images of patients in nearly real-time and collaborate with colleagues and specialists overseas, enhancing cross-regional expertise.”

GE Healthcare’s Cloud Imaging platform was developed to allow doctors to store patient images and data together in one place, view 3D images from anywhere, and access reports. “It’s all about virtually limitless computing, storage and collaboration on tough cases to help healthcare teams make more informed decisions.” said Jeanine Banks, general manager of marketing at GE Healthcare

The program will start at nine pilot sites within the next six months, including hospitals in Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guyana.

Doctors across the three territories will be able to collaborate instantly by remotely and securely sharing patient information and medical images. In a region where stroke and heart attack are on the rise, this streamlining and broadening of healthcare access will make a positive change to how patients are treated.2

Nic David, General Manager, GE Healthcare IT, France, said: “This is excellent news for the clinicians and patients of Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guyana. Take stroke as an example, one of the most common illnesses and causes of death.  The new cloud platform will allow stronger collaboration between the three regions, and for example a neurologist will be able to provide expertise to a local, non-specialist healthcare professional, with all the patient data and images at their fingertips.”

References

1 –http://www.paho.org/saludenlasamericas/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=130&Itemid=

2 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11739966

More Information

Healthcare in the French West-Indies

WHO stroke statistics

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