Vietnam province uses video to deliver remote healthcare services

The Department of Health in Quang Ninh Province is extending critical healthcare services to rural populations by providing increased access to doctors and medical staff via its telehealth network across 24 hospitals and community healthcare centres (CHCs).

With the aid of Polycom video collaboration technology, including room-based and mobile solutions, the health department provides consultations and follow-up care for patients hundreds of kilometres away, improved training and collaboration for doctors in remote areas.

Establishing a vital link between central and provincial hospitals

The Quang Ninh province in the northeast of Vietnam on the border with China, is a mountainous region of over 6,000 square kilometers. For the population, access to healthcare would mean long journeys to the nearest central hospital or medical centre, due to shortages of clinical professionals in rural areas. Diagnosis and consultation on more complicated patient cases were often a challenge.

“For diagnosis of more difficult medical cases, patients had to be transferred across large distances from regional hospitals to either the Bach Mai or Viet Duc central hospitals. Telehealth has provided us with that vital link to rapidly administer patient care and diagnose early symptoms,” said Dr. Vu Xuan Dien, Director of Quang Ninh Department of Health.

Since telehealth solutions were implemented in 2015, the Department of Health has also improved training and collaboration for doctors in remote areas, enabled the rapid transfer of emergency and diagnostic information to surgical facilities, and serve larger numbers of patients while reducing workload on provincial hospitals.

Efficiency achieved at several different levels

A key focus for the Quang Ninh Department of Health was improving efficiencies in work flows, to ensure productive use of resources and reduced costs while delivering quality healthcare.

The telehealth network has brought about remarkable transformation in making best use of human capital and resources. The department credits technology for enhancing the capacity for management and supervision of other hospitals in the province, reducing the incidence of disease outbreaks due to earlier intervention, and promoting the development of staff to meet required skillsets.

For example, where health directives and advisories had to be issued immediately, about 300 employees can now dial into a video conference so knowledge is rapidly transferred. This is especially crucial in managing natural disasters such as floods as well as outbreak of diseases. Information, procedures and protocols can be shared and communicated more efficiently and effectively to ensure the right medical support is provided to the affected areas.

“The telehealth network has completely changed our levels of service to communities in the province and reduced the workload pressures on our clinical staff,” said Dr. Vu Xuan Dien, Director of Quang Ninh Department of Health.”

Greater collaboration through technology has bene ted the department at several levels—from administrative functions to patient care and providing ongoing training to staff:

  • The leadership team no longer has to travel long distances to join important meetings, saving at least 50 per cent on costs and three to four hours per meeting.
  • Technical guidance, mobilisation, emergency medical support and coordination during times of natural disasters is carried out more efficiently due to face-to-face collaboration among multiple care teams.

Training programs made easier

The Quang Ninh Department of Health places major emphasis on continuous training programs for medical and administrative staff. These programs have rapidly accelerated through
more frequent collaboration; by 2016, over 1000 doctors and employees of a affiliated hospitals were provided training.

However, prior to implementing collaboration technology, staff training in hospitals and medical units was previously only conducted centrally.

“With Polycom’s technology, we held 32 online conference calls involving 7,000 staff in 19 meetings for work-in- progress updates and guidelines on the management of outbreak control and prevention. That is about 300 people per meeting on average; and 13 online professional training sessions for over 1,000 staff,” said Dr. Dien.

Future endeavours

The Quang Ninh Department of Health will look to extend video collaboration to personal mobile devices and tablets, for on-the-go connectivity. This development would mean that doctors can easily conduct health checks and receive medical information no matter where they are located.

“The Quang Ninh Department of Health is proud to have embarked on this telehealth program in Vietnam to continue serving our communities and employees better,” added
Dr. Dien.