Telemedicine service puts a virtual ER aboard ship

Future Care's Christina DeSimone: "Telemedicine is a truly shared benefit" Future Care's Christina DeSimone: "Telemedicine is a truly shared benefit"

MARCH 14, 2014 — Health management services provider Future Care, Inc. has formed a strategic alliance with maritime communications solutions provider Globecomm Maritime, to offer a video-enabled telemedicine solution to the maritime industry, and integrate it into Globecomm's Access Chat service.

Christina DeSimone, President and CEO of Future Care, said the alliance would allow both companies to greatly expand the reach and effectiveness of maritime telemedicine services.

"Telemedicine is a truly shared benefit – to the ship and yacht owner, shipmanager, as well as to individual crew members – and in ways not imaginable a few short years ago," she said. "Seafarers will benefit from the virtual presence of Future Care's network physicians and other medical professionals onboard ship while the shipowner and his P&I Club will save in medical costs, time lost and avoidance of deviation."

Future Care Live combines Future Care's Caring for the Crew program with Globecomm's Access Chat Plus live video streaming software.

Using the video streaming properties of Access Chat Plus, Future Care Live creates a "virtual ER," which allows for the simultaneous remote participation of network general and specialist physicians, hospital treatment staff, Future Care case manager, shipowner representatives and family members, as needed, while onboard ship, at sea.

Malcolm McMaster, President of Globecomm Maritime, said the ability to provide a genuine telemedicine was a timely development, given the ratification last year of the Maritime Labour Convention.

"Shipowners and managers are more than ever focused on the 'human factor' as the key to safe and efficient operations," he said. "Until now, this realization has lacked the mechanism to truly provide innovative services like telemedicine. Putting Access Chat Plus together with Future Care creates the opportunity to deliver a service that can improve healthcare for mariners and also be highly cost effective."

Originally developed for military use, Future Care Live meets the requirements of the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and international standards for the electronic transmission of private medical information. Other capabilities include virtual face-to-face secure communication in one-to-one or group settings for non-medical discussions, as well as the encrypted transmission of business documents of any size and in any format between ship and shore.