VMMC and their big push for telehealth
By: Katherine Babaran, October 28, 2011

Telehealth session on PhacoemulsificationOnce again, the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) had a telehealth session, entitled “Phacoemulsification Conference 2011,” which was assisted by the Philippine Research, Education and Government Information Network (PREGINET), last 26 October 2011 held at the VMMC Valdes Hall.

Said telehealth session was attended by different Metro Manila eye doctors who are practicing Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery. The conference was also participated in by Dr. Shuji Shimizu of the Kyushu University Hospital in Japan, as well as Mr. Renato C. Doctor, Officer-in-Charge of the Philippine Heart Center‘s Hospital Information System.

Dr. June Mendiola, Head of the VMMC Department of Ophthalmology, said that it was their first time to tap the PREGINET in assisting VMMC in this big event. “Mr. Bayani Benjamin R. Lara of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) introduced telehealth to VMMC which is not yet used in Phaco Conference,” said Dr. Mendiola.

Phaco Con 2011 being the first eye surgery telehealth

Phaco Conference is a regular event staged by the Philippine Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Usually, eye doctors bring their respective recorded surgery videos to show and share their experiences in Phacoemulsification Surgery. However, telehealth came into light only in their last session in 2011 through the help of the PREGINET.

“We recognize the use of this telehealth, with the help of the DOST people, as an option to sustain the teleconferencing, probably, in the future [conferences] without moving from one place to another. We can stay in our respective hospitals or even in our respective homes through live streaming or video conferencing and continue discussing things without the need to travel,” Dr. Mendiola explained.

Dr. Shimizu commended the initiative of the VMMC and PREGINET in showcasing the very first eye telehealth and mentioned that the Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN) only conducts telehealth on thorascopic, laparoscopic, endoscopic and oncological surgeries. He also said that the APAN would fervently welcome the next telehealth on eye surgery.

The Philippine Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery hopes to apply the telehealth technology in the Society’s future activities, especially, those that are beneficial for the learning of the eye doctors.

With this first eye surgery telehealth done in the country, the Philippine Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, as well as the VMMC resident ophthalmologists appreciated the help of PREGINET in providing equipment and expertise for subject activity.

“We would like to thank the DOST people for assisting us in this event. This is very promising,” said Dr. Richard C. Kho, Scientific Program Director of the Philippine Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

The PREGINET-assisted technologies

Telehealth uses various technologies such as telephones, satellite technology and videoconferencing facility to remotely consult with the specialists or diagnose patients. 

Phacoemulsification Conference 2011The PREGINET gave technical assistance to Phaco Conference 2011 on the following technologies:
a) Videoconferencing. The PREGINET had an H.323 videoconferencing with the Kyushu University and Philippine Heart Center in Manila.
b) Video Streaming. A live streaming was done and the eye doctors who were not present at the event could view the session via mobile devices.
c) Digital Video Transport System (DVTS). DVTS, which is a free and open source software, was used by PREGINET to deliver the live surgery in the operating room. This was done by using the current VMMC network infrastructure and a sending machine that used Ubuntu Linux as its operating system. 

“This is the same technology being used by advanced research networks in doing telehealth across the globe. I am happy that the ophthalmologists in VMMC took the initiative of working with us and adapting it to a government hospital setting,” said PREGINET Multimedia Engineer Alvin M. de Gracia.