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Polycom Immersive Telepresence Powers the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) Telehealth to Improve Quality of Healthcare in Northeast Brazil
Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brazilian telehealth network relies on secure HD video collaboration to share advanced expertise among more than 2,000 healthcare professionals and their patients across the region and beyond

SÃO PAULO - Aug 28, 2012 : Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), the global leader in open standards-based unified communications, today announced that Brazil’s Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) is improving the level of healthcare delivered to patients in hundreds of small towns with help from Polycom® RealPresence® video collaboration solutions.
UFPE recently implemented Polycom® OTX™ immersive solutions, powered by the Polycom® RealPresence® Platform software infrastructure, at UFPE University Hospital in Recife. The solution, which uses immersive HD video to create a shared virtual space, is so natural and realistic that users forget they are on video and interact with one another as if they really are in the same room regardless of location. Polycom's solution serves as a hub for UFPE's Telehealth Nucleus (NUTES) network.
Implemented across several universities, NUTES is responsible for administering the Brazilian Telehealth Network program, which includes the installation and operation of more than 100 telehealth sites in each Brazilian state. Throughout the country, 1,100 telehealth sites are located in primary assistance facilities selected by municipal health officials. The network supports 2,700 family health teams spread over the country's five regions and serving more than 11 million inhabitants.
The Polycom RealPresence OTX room is one of six immersive telepresence rooms located throughout Brazil's teaching and research institutions and launched by the National Teaching and Research Network (RNP). Others are located at Rio de Janeiro State University UERJ (Pedro Ernesto Hospital in Rio de Janeiro), FINEP (Rio de Janeiro), RNP (Brasília), UFMG (Belo Horizonte University Hospital) and UNIFESP (São Paulo Hospital, in São Paulo).
With Polycom video powering its core telehealth efforts via the NUTES network, UFPE is able to offer interactive, face-to-face courses that teach the latest medical advances and breakthroughs to more than 2,000 healthcare professionals. The network is also part of a nationwide telemedicine university network known as RUTE (Rede Universitaria de Telemedicina), which provides a means for the university to offer assistance, education and support to Brazil's Unified Health System, and specialists to remotely participate in clinical discussions and obtain second opinions in difficult cases, all within the high-definition Polycom® RealPresence® Immersive video environment. UFPE officials say Polycom's stunningly realistic video and audio makes it possible for participants to have "across the table"conversations with remote parties. This in turn improves access to expertise, comprehension of information, and team productivity; leads to faster and more precise assessments; and ultimately drives down the cost of delivering care.
"Polycom RealPresence solutions help mitigate the problem of scarce medical specialists in remote areas of Brazil with a telehealth network built on Polycom RealPresence Immersive theater solutions. That network connects urban specialists via high-definition immersive video with remote patients to greatly expand access to expert care,"said Dr. Magdala de Araújo Novaes, coordinator of NUTES and of UFPE's Health Information Technologies Group. "We can also provide professionals with continuing education courses on new procedures and discoveries without making them travel to Recife. As a result, this investment will save money, time and - most importantly - lives."
UFPE plans to expand its reach even further, eventually creating a collaborative network of family health centers located in the state's 185 townships. The goal of the effort is to promote partnerships among public health organizations, create new collaboration opportunities, strengthen the integration of teaching and healthcare delivery services, and enhance the educational platforms available to future generations of physicians, nurses and dentists.
"Brazil has one of the world's largest and best telehealth networks,"said Dr. Luiz Ary Messina, RUTE's national coordinator. "This is in part due to the contribution of universities and teaching hospitals like UFPE, which are helping to make continued and permanent education a tenet of public health policy, to increase cooperative research aimed at meeting the needs of Brazil's population, and to provide specialist care to patients in remote regions. This simply would not be possible without these immersive collaboration environments."
The Polycom RealPresence environment and other RUTE installations will also be central to UFPE's effort to promote the creation of video-equipped health centers where professionals will be able to remotely diagnose patients located in areas where specialist care is unavailable.
Helder Vitorino, RNP project manager, said the immersive environment also will prove helpful for other academic disciplines and day-to-day university business. "The more our teachers, researchers and staff make use of this resource, the more information and knowledge we can share with other universities, and the greater our contribution to learning."