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A Health First For Nz Kids Launched Today

A Health First For Nz Kids Launched Today

Health Minister Annette King has today launched the first nationwide paediatric telemedicine service linking nine hospitals around the country.

The service will mean paediatric medical experts around the country will be able to join in live video-conferencing to share national expertise through teaching and training, as well as diagnosing and treating children through live consultations.

A two-year-old Christchurch Hospital patient will be the first to be examined after the official launch. She was recently diagnosed with a brain tumour and will today be seen, via the videoconference link, by paediatricians at Starship Children’s Hospital and Christchurch Hospital who will discuss her diagnosis and treatment.

The New Zealand TelePaediatric Service (NZTPS) links doctors, nurses, therapists and other health professionals nationally. Medical teams will be able to consult and examine patients despite being hundreds of kilometres apart.

Paediatric specialist and NZTPS chairman, Dr Mike Sullivan, said this telemedicine initiative would have immediate benefits for children.

“It has been long recognised that patients, young and old, are best treated close to home in familiar surroundings. In cases where children must travel to a hospital, the technology will likely allow for earlier discharges and many ongoing check-ups will be done via the video link from the child’s hometown or city,” he said.

The Starship Foundation began planning the service in 1995 in consultation with the New Zealand paediatric community.

“We are thrilled to have Telecom as the major sponsor, which will provide the technology to help ensure children get access to top medical expertise,” said Starship Foundation Executive Director Patricia Wright.

Telecom NZ is providing two years of free videoconferencing time and it has sponsored the creation of a dedicated website for professionals using the service. In total, Telecom’s support is valued at about $225,000.

“We are proud the Starship Foundation picked Telecom to provide the technical know-how for the service,” Telecom Chief Executive Theresa Gattung said. “This service can help save children’s lives. The service is a powerful example of communications technology put to real work for the community. It also has the potential to save precious health dollars by creating more cost-effective high quality care.”

The service uses VCON equipment which has been partly sponsored by information technology company, Ipex.

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