Attend Anywhere At The Alfred: Treating & Supporting Individuals with Cystic Fibrosis – Virtually Amazing!
With WebRTC, developers at a company based in Melbourne, Australia have created a connected care application that uses browsers to bring together people with cystic fibrosis around the world with specialists determined to find a cure. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening, genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system with approximately 70,000 individuals diagnosed, and countless friends and family members impacted worldwide.
“Telemedicine” has been around since the Internet became the Web, but it has been expensive, unreliable and inaccessible to those who could not participate from a video conferencing facility. In the near future, once companies like Microsoft and Apple join with companies like Google and non-profit organizations like Mozilla, everyone with access to a browser will be able to benefit from a global health exchange.
Skype was developed in the early 2000s as a free, peer-to-peer Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service – the ultimate “freemium” app with “Skyping out” enough of a revenue stream to sustain the model. Skype exploded and now has close to a billion users. In ten years the company grew from zero revenue to over $2.5 billion in value when Microsoft acquired it in 2011. But change is perpetual, and what “Skype” technology did in its first decade, WebRTC promises to disrupt today. Given WebRTC’s open source roots, thanks to Google and supporting companies, voice, data and video channels can be harnessed by developers to implement their own Real Time Communications or “RTC” Web apps.
Many visionaries in the healthcare industry believe it will literally change everything for millions of people and disrupt – all in good ways – the economics of healthcare delivery.
A secure data connection between users – setting up a “session” – will give providers the ability to drag and drop images during a video call. For example, a physician can share imaging with a specialist. A patient can use his or her camera to show progress of a wound healing. A nurse can peer straight into a patient’s eyes in real-time, and capture that image as part of the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR).
Back to Melbourne, the team at Attend Anywhere is already using WebRTC as part of its Regional Cystic Fibrosis e-Health & Telemonitoring Program, funded by the Victorian government’s Broadband Enabled Innovation Program and the Department of Health. Trials are underway in conjunction with Monash University’s Department of Medicine, led by Professor John Wilson, head of the Cystic Fibrosis Service at Alfred.
“Healthcare is resource intensive, and for the higher standard of healthcare demanded by the Australian community, we must explore new and innovative strategies,” Professor Wilson said, an interview posted on the University’s website. “Telemedicine is an opportunity to provide better access, improved monitoring and prolonged treatment courses for many patients who would otherwise be dependent on hospital care.”