One of the greatest pleasures of owning or chartering a megayacht is the ability to go to quiet anchorages, particularly off the beaten track. There’s nothing but you and nature.
But what if a medical emergency arises? Say, something that goes beyond the first-aid training of the crew and possibly requires medical consultation as soon as possible. If you’re in the midst of the islands or between major ports, it may take a while to reach a land-based doctor. The person experiencing the emergency also may not be comfortable with the thought of a foreign doctor initially treating them.
In either scenario, a new vital signs monitoring system that uses a satellite network may help.
TeleMedic Systems, a company specializing in affordable telemedicine applications, recently completed testing of its VitalLink3 monitoring system over Iridium’s global satellite network. It’s therefore confident that the lightweight system can aid superyachts no matter where they are.
If you’re unfamiliar with telemedicine, it’s an interesting field. It involves the transfer of medical data via telephone, the Internet, or other means so that doctors can provide advice to the individuals who are on the other end, typically in remote locations. The doctor can even guide procedures or examinations. As for VitalLink3, it’s a mobile vital-signs monitor–a computer small enough to be held in both hands that connects to medical devices. It can not only operate these device, but also receive blood-pressure, EKG, and other data from them. It then encrypts and sends that data via a hard-wired system, a cellular system, or, as stated above, Iridium satellites to appropriate medical personnel on land.
While TeleMedic Systems says that VitalLink3 can work with outside servers, the company offers its own servers, called VitalNet, to receive the transmitted information. VitalNet will then stream the still-encrypted data, which additionally lacks any patient-identifiable details for privacy, to the designated doctor or medical facility. Only individuals authorized by the owner and/or crew and who have the proper login and password can access the records, to further ensure confidentiality.
“The flexibility of the VitalLink3 allows us to match the requirements of the user with the available communication carrier,” says Gerry Buss, chief operating officer of TeleMedic Systems. In fact, the company performs a “site survey” of the yacht to review what equipment is present and what potential medical scenarios may arise. The next step involves creating a list of the various hardware that TeleMedic Systems will supply as well as what medical devices need to be kept onboard. Upon completion of the installation, the firm trains designated crewmembers and/or others in the use of the equipment and even tests them using the devices. Finally, the crew or other appropriate individual connects to the selected doctor, who receives notification that VitalLink3 is active and ready to transmit when necessary.
Now, TeleMedic Systems doesn’t claim that VitalLink3 is the end-all, be-all solution to emergencies; in fact, it readily admits that the monitoring system may help prevent just a small number of evacuations. Regardless, anything that can provide assistance in an emergency is certainly worth considering.