by Jennifer O'Brien

NSW Health gives doctors the power of telemedicine

Mar 22, 2017
Technology Industry

Clinicians within NSW’s regional network of hospitals can now use telemedicine capabilities to better diagnose and treat patients with cancer thanks to the adoption of tools that provide secure mobile access to electronic medical records.

Under the plan, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Cancer and Haematology Network (ISCaHN) will use Citrix solutions to equip all employees with remote and secure access to sensitive patient information, analysis of hi-res medical images across devices, and aiding the success of its BYOD initiative, which was introduced in 2015.

The BYOD initiative extended beyond basic flexible work arrangements, allowing staff to securely share, access and analyse MRI and X-ray images from anywhere on any device.

A barrier to doctors working remotely is the inability to send or receive hi-res medical imagery and assets over a slow speed link, according to ISCaHN’s oncology information system manager, Kenneth Masters, who said the roll out of Citrix XenApp and Netscaler helps overcome this challenge.

“By leveraging the Citrix XenApp platforms high powered graphics cards, we can deliver a robust and secure platform capable of supporting our wider BYOD program for all our employees – particularly doctors,” said Masters.

Masters said the technology will also help reinvent the way cancer is treated by enabling remote and secure access to sensitive information across devices, including MRI and X-ray images.

“We have innovated and changed the way we treat cancer. By providing medical staff with greater flexibility through optimised and high-quality data access, we improved our services to patients – empowering them to deliver round-the-clock healthcare from a variety of locations without compromising security of confidential medical details,” Masters said.

He added that business continuity is vital in healthcare and the technology will deliver uninterrupted services across NSW Health.

“For example, in 2016 we implemented a workspace-as-a-service program with Citrix, providing nursing staff with single log-ins to securely and immediately access all our apps and data from up to 600 terminal PCs.”

The department is also able to publish text-based and visual applications, such as X-ray medical imaging, securely across encrypted links to any device, while Citrix NetScaler is used to manage and optimise applications used across the network in real-time.

Masters said this ensures no patient data is left on staff devices at the end of the session, which is critical in the context of protecting sensitive personal medical histories, and all application performance and security issues can be rapidly addressed to ensure the seamless delivery of patient services.

He said the department is also currently assessing the impact of rolling out Citrix across mobile device platforms, as well as publishing Citrix applications and desktops virtually on Microsoft HoloLens.

“Because of the capabilities enabled by Citrix, NSW Health is able to increase the level of patient services we provide, and our relationship will go on for some time as we transform the way we deliver care in the digital age.”