Breakthrough technology helps treat sick passengers midflight, helps airlines reduce costly unplanned diversion
Geneva, Switzerland, 31 March 2009 - OnAir and Remote Diagnostic Technologies Ltd (RDT) today announced the successful testing of next generation inflight telemedicine on commercial aircraft. For the first time, doctors on the ground can use real-time moving video technology to remotely assist afflicted passengers onboard as well as the crew managing the emergency situation in the air. Additionally, this equipment streams real-time voice and eight key vital signs including blood oxygen level, breath gas analysis and 12-lead electrocardiogram. This live contact helps doctors enormously in evaluating the patient's condition, in arriving at an accurate diagnosis, and in advising on emergency treatment - which will in turn improve the quality of passenger care and help reduce the number of emergency diversions .
With the increase in air travel, people of all ages and medical conditions are travelling using commercial airlines, increasing the probability of a medical emergency occurring in flight. At the same time, the cost of diverting aircraft is increasing with the growing use of super carriers such as the A380. Using advanced telemedicine services can help avoid one in ten emergency landings, each of which can cost an airline anything between €30,000 and €165,000 depending on aircraft type and situation.
Real-time video contact between patient and medical experts on the ground is made possible by the Tempus ICTM telemedicine system using OnAir connectivity based on SwiftBroadband, high capacity, high-speed satellite service from Inmarsat. The system was successfully trialled on a bmi flight at the end of February.
RDT CEO Graham Murphy said: "Tempus IC is the latest patient monitor from RDT and is setting new standards in terms of size, weight, robustness and ease of use. It is the world's first monitor to allow users to transmit a full set of vital signs data, with two-way voice and video communication to provide the diagnostic information that supports fast, informed medical decisions by ground-based experts. With OnAir, RDT can provide global coverage."
Benoit Debains, CEO of OnAir, said: "OnAir's and RDT's advanced technology and our SwiftBroadband connection, mean that medical experts can more accurately assess the situation than ever before. This not only offers reassurance to the patient, but is an enormous step forward in reducing the number of unplanned landings and in improving operational efficiency for the airline."
Cpt. Dr. Graham Cresswell, Pilot Medical Officer, bmi, who worked as part of the team on the user requirements for the technology, said: "This has been a great advance in the management of an in-flight medical incident. With the emergence of ultra long-haul aircraft such as the A380, this kind of technology is really the only way forward to contain the component of risk that an in-flight medical incident presents, not just for the airline but for the passenger as well. The combination of medical data with the ability actually to see and talk to patient and crew is a real breakthrough."
Through a development contract, the European Space Agency has worked closely with RDT to develop solutions for providing telemedicine services via SatCom for the commercial aviation and space sectors.