Smart Telecoms Philippines may have launched 3G Video Calling services in 2006 but despite the operators strong healthcare links (it’s parent company operates the regions largest Hospital network) and the enormous potential for mHealth to serve a population dispersed over 7000 smaller islands (alluded to here by Alex Ibasco) it has taken until now for 3G networks to be trialled in mHealth scenarios.
As Smart’s 3G offering begins to evolve beyond the “MyTV, “Find a Friend” and “Speed Dating” use case scenarios that have already launched, this small initiative (that stretches to only 8 doctors) will enable 3G video conferencing using a PC based Video Conferencing application from ooVoo (a free* video call service provider similar to Skype in that it offers no privacy/security assurances). From the limited detail in the Philippine Star news item it appears the service is designed to help ensure patients in provincial hospitals are prepared for surgery with the help of remote video assistance from surgeons based in the the capital city:
“Despite their being in separate locations, pre-operation consultation and other preparations proceed — more efficiently, in fact. That is made possible by mobile phones and Internet access provided by Smart Communications Inc. The Misamis Oriental provincial government, in partnership with the Mindanao Consortium of Surgeons and Smart, recently launched the Mobile Surgery Services Project. Information gleaned from the online consultation as well as data transmitted via the eight 3G phones provided by Smart enables members of the mobile surgery team of the provincial health office to improve pre-operation preparations and ensure the efficient delivery of surgical services at the different provincial hospitals. During the launch, a demonstration was conducted, showing how a patient at the provincial hospital in Balingasag town could consult a neurosurgeon stationed at the Cagayan de Oro Hospital using the ooVoo application and a webcam. Smart is providing free one-year Internet connectivity to all seven provincial hospitals of Misamis Oriental to support the development of the Mobile Surgery Services Project”