At a Glance
- Improved patient care
- Reduced carbon footprint
- Regularly monitor patients at home
- Improved collaboration
Regional Healthcare Agency, County Council and Municipalities of Norrbotten, Sweden, deliver quality healthcare and services via Polycom RealPresence Platform
Norrbottens Läns Landsting (NLL) is the regional government agency responsible for healthcare in Sweden’s northern region. The territory is a vast landscape of towering alpine peaks, and endless vistas of pine forest, polar plains, and glaciers. The healthcare agency and county council are together responsible for all public healthcare and health related services in this area of more than 98,000 km², where the population is less than 250,000. Most of the region is located above the Arctic Circle, guaranteeing long, cold winters and extreme weather conditions. Though the road and rail network are well-equipped and up to date, the immense distances seperating each town, coupled with the fact that the population is based in rural areas, make providing and delivering quality public healthcare and services to all a major challenge. There are five hospitals, 31 healthcare centres, 32 dental clinics and close to 6,500 employees working at NLL. Organising ‘in person’ meetings in this landscape is a challenge, and NLL found the solution to overcome this, to deliver the best services possible to their citizens.
IT Norrbotten is a regional engine for broadband build-out and for use of the countywide fibre-based network. The company is owned by the 14 municipalities, in Norrbotten and the County Council of Norrbotten (NLL). All municipalities and the different units of NLL, are linked in a joint broadband network. It enables, among things, the ability to have high-quality video conferences. The joint platform for distance meetings for municipalities and the County Council has opened up numerous possibilities for coordination and cooperation.
A Large-Scale Project Bringing Everyone Closer Together
Video collaboration was an attractive proposition early on and NLL and the County Council were pioneers in the field. Their joint vision from the start was to deliver healthcare and services to everyone, anywhere at anytime. Many factors needed to be considered: the vast territory which had to be covered, the remote rural areas, the climate, the individual demographics, and finally the resources and the infrastructure required. Polycom® was selected as the partner of choice for the ambitious project for two main reasons. The first was ease of use, as the team selecting knew in order to have adoption by all types of users, it needed to be simple to use. And the second was that the quality of the solution had to be outstanding as video collaboration was being used for medical examination and therapy. The project was designed to create video connections between the 15 locations, five hospitals, nine of the large clinics, and the headquarters in Luleå.
The Polycom RealPresence Platform
The requirements for the project, was to deliver a scalable, reliable platform to provide seamless interoperability with all existing and any future video conference investments. The Polycom RealPresence Platform is comprised of a multimedia conference platform, a management application system, a Polycom DMA, a recording and streaming server, and the Polycom VBP. This provides the ability to efficiently manage and control the network, create a seamless UC environment, and capture and manage content. There are a little over 50 Polycom HDX room systems in the hospitals, clinics, municipalities, and local authority agencies, along with 1,500 desktop software, and several Polycom HDX solutions on carts, to be used in surgery rooms.
The Internal Benefits
The first to benefit from the Polycom RealPresence Platform is the staff. Internal meetings between hospital management, doctors, surgeons, nurses and medical staff are now undertaken via video collaboration. The Chief Executives of the municipalities meet five times a year. Just by conducting these five meetings via video collaboration, over 300 working hours, 5,460kg of carbon dioxide and 130,000SEK ($18,000) of travel expenses have been saved. The introduction of the Polycom RealPresence Platform has greatly enhanced communications, knowledge sharing, reduced travel times and improved work life balance.
Improving and Facilitating Patient Care
The main objective was to further utlise visual communications to improve patient care, and coordinate care planning between the patient, their family, medical staff and the local government. All local municipalities, city councils, hospitals and clinics have a Polycom video conference room and hold consultations with peers for planning and review purposes. These multi-disciplinary teams get together, for example, in a situation where a patient has been discharged from hospital and a meeting between the hospital, the municipality and the patients primary healthcare professional is arranged to discuss out patient care. Using video collaboration for these meetings expedites care and ultimately saves costs.
The NLL also offers patients the option of using video collaboration from their home as part of their aftercare, with either a full mobile unit or a CMA software desktop solution. One example, is mothers with premature babies can connect with the maternity unit at anytime to meet face-to-face with a healthcare professional. Another example is for physical therapy, where patients are able to do their therapy face-to-face from home. Doctor Zerina Durakovic, Senior Dermatologist at Sunderby comments "The image is such good quality, I can make a good assessment on video. I am able to treat more patients, who don’t have to travel long distances to see me, and it facilitates consultation and knowledge sharing with other physicians." Using video collaboration this specialist is able to examine a patient in any of the hospitals and clinics in Norrbotten.
Mother Tongue Teaching
In Sweden, pupils have a right to mother tongue education. Almost 100 languages are represented in Norrbotten, making it difficult for the municipalities to provide qualified teachers. Through video conferencing, education is coordinated between schools and municipalities. Today 600 pupils can develop their bilingual skills.
Norrbotten has no boundaries for the usage of their video collaboration platform. As the Polycom solutions are standards-based, the video collaboration is not limited to the region or their network. For instance Sunderby Hospital in Luleå, the largest in the region, is connected, over video, to Umeå University to enable distance learning for the medical students.
For NLL, video collaboration is fully intergrated in the way people work, and communicate. For administrative/clinical meetings, patient consultation, education and lectures, aftercare, medical education; the Polycom RealPresence Platform is the heart of the project. As the technology improves and becomes more accessible, NLL continues to find new applications and initiatives are implemented. They are in the process of testing RealPresence Mobile, by loaning patients tablets to go home with for their follow up treatment, or asking them to download the application on their personal tablets.
The NLL estimates in 2010, over 8 Million SEK ($1.1 Million) was saved in travel costs and work hours, and replacing short-haul travel with video conferencing also had an environmental impact, cutting the carbon dioxide footprint by 350 tonnes. In the year 2011, they measured close to 20,000 hours of video communications on the network, which was 8,000 hours more than in 2010. Tony Blomqvist, CEO, IT Norrbotten sums it up "Our broadband network and our common Polycom RealPresence Platform creates new opportunities for the County Council and the municipalites to cooperate in healthcare, medial care and education for the benefit of the County residents."
To find out how Polycom solutions can help your organisation, visit us at www.sweden.polycom.com or speak with a Polycom Account Representative on +44 (0)1753 723 282.
Polycom is the global leader in open 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 total cost of ownership, interoperability, scalability, and security for video collaboration, whether on-premises, hosted, or cloud-delivered.
“The image is such good quality; I can make a good assessment via video. I am able to treat more patients, who no longer have to travel to see me, and it facilitates consultations and knowledge sharing with other physicians.”
- Zerina Durakovic,