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News Archive: Sep 2015


SAVING LIVES IN OUTBACK QUEENSLAND

Posted on 1st September 2015

Equate

Chris Wilson
Head of IT
Heart of Australia

The Challenge

 Established in Queensland in 2014, the pioneering Heart of Australia program is the first cardiology clinic-on-wheels in Australia. In just 10 months, Heart of Australia has travelled over 60,000 km, treated over 1700 individuals and saved more than 60 lives. The program is the brain child of Dr. Rolf Gomes, who has personally invested over $1M and countless hours developing the mobile medical clinic. “The idea came to me when I was a junior doctor practicing in regional areas of Queensland” Dr. Gomes said. “I experienced at that time how difficult it was for patients in these areas to access the lifesaving services that patients in the city take for granted.”

“I was looking for someone to help me put together a highly specialised IT solution.”

Putting a cardiology unit from a private practice into a trailer was a huge task, so ensuring that communications from the truck in remote outback Queensland to the hospitals in Brisbane became a key deliverable in the success of the project. Enter Chris Wilson, Head of IT for Heart of Australia. “I came on towards the end of the build but before the IT implementation – so I was immediately looking for someone to help me put together a highly specialised IT solution. Equate Technologies was recommended to us, it seemed that they would be a good fit – and they were!”

The Solution

 Travelling to very remote communities means a lack of infrastructure – both digital and structural. Replacement parts and skilled technical expertise are often days away. A robust solution was needed to ensure that the Heart of Australia would keep beating. “We asked Equate to design the entire solution – they worked through all of our needs and parameters and came up with a network design which included all of the equipment, hardware and solutions that would suit what we were doing. They put together the package and the solution and gave us multiple options. The networking equipment they specified is robust, with sufficient built in redundancy and flexibility – for example, the routers that we have also have a server computing blade in them, allowing us to run servers from within the routers. Everything is multifunctional and fully redundant – this gives us our robustness and peace of mind. Having the ability to manage it all remotely means that it is very easy for us to manage. Equate Technologies manages the networking infrastructure – and we have had very minimal support requirements since launch, as everything works so well. There were some initial teething problems as you can imagine with a flagship project like this. The engineers from Equate came out to the truck in Dalby to assist us in resolving the challenges – they were very responsive.”

“Equate came out to the truck in Dalby – they were incredibly responsive”

The result is a state-of-the art Cardiology clinic that performs stress tests, cardiac ultrasounds, Holter monitoring and a suite of other non-invasive cardiac and respiratory tests – all from a 25 metre long semitrailer/clinic on wheels. As tests are being done, if something is identified as potentially problematic the Heart of Australia technicians’ logon to the local servers and in a few mouse clicks, have the ultrasound imaging transferred to Brisbane where it can be reviewed by cardiologists and other doctors. Furthermore “if we find something critical, we can be organizing patient transport, whilst we are simultaneously getting the imaging off to the hospital. So while all of this happens on the truck, it is just the tip of the iceberg – we have a team on the truck, but we have a larger team in Brisbane supporting us – Equate Technologies allows us to do this. Typically when we are talking about this sort of thing, we are seeking an urgent diagnosis to enable timely treatment. Every second counts, and our technology is critical to delivering these results.”

The results

Creating a technology solution in a confined space with enough backup redundancy and throughput was critical. Ensuring application performance/availability and data security however are crucial to the project’s success. Equate Technologies provided a depth of proficiency in networking solutions and security – both Perimeter and SIEM. Seamlessly delivering this service to Heart of Australia keeps the doctors and technicians communicating over thousands of empty outback kilometres. “Equate Technologies has proven to be a partner that really wanted to understand what we needed, and to create a holistic and robust solution – not just say “here’s the equipment you need – off you go”. They helped us design, manage and monitor the solution, and they have done some really cool things on the side – like putting the live GPS updates on our website so that anyone can see where the Heart of Australia truck is at any time.”

Dr. Gomes’ vision is for a national program providing all of rural Australia with the medical care that they need

Dr. Gomes’ vision is to have multiple trailers rolled out nationally – so that all Australians have access to the critical medical specialists they need and to expand the scope of services beyond cardiology and respiratory medicine incorporating other specialties as well. Equate Technologies will be there every step of the way.