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Satellite technology helping save lives

Media Release
20 January 2010
Attention: Rural, Health, ICT reporters

Satellite technology helping save lives

State-of-the-art satellite technology in New Zealand’s first digital mobile breast screening unit is helping to save the lives of women living in rural parts of Waitemata and Northland.

The BreastScreen Waitemata Northland unit, which began operating this month, sets the standard for mobile breast screening using digital and satellite technology.

The satellite technology is a key aspect of the unit and has been made possible through Farmside, who provides high speed broadband to rural communities across New Zealand.

Tony Baird, CEO of Farmside, said the mobile breast screening unit was another example of how satellite can deliver for rural areas in an immediate and very cost effective way.

“To deliver the best in health and education services across New Zealand we need to be able to utilise technologies that are equivalent to those available in the cities,” he said.

“In this case satellite has met an immediate need and is literally helping to save lives.”

The unit’s new digital technology processes the picture within seconds, and beams it, via the satellite dish on top of the truck, to radiologists in Auckland.

The satellite technology eliminates the need to transport hardcopy x-ray film – saving time and effort, and enabling the mammograms to reach the radiologists for interpretation more quickly.

It is estimated that the digital and satellite technology used in the new mobile unit will enable an additional 1800 more women to be tested annually – an increase of around 30%.

The new mobile unit delivers the BreastScreen Aotearoa programme for women aged 45-69, and based on its success, other health providers may adopt similar technology in future


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