It takes a team to fight something as insidious as cancer.
Like a gathering of comic book superheroes, treating a patient with cancer requires a combination of specific skills provided by a host of medical professionals. Just one person’s diagnosis and treatment may require the expertise of oncologists, hematologists, radiologists, advanced care nurses, histopathologists, surgeons and more. That’s for every case.
Having that Avengers-style medical team available is one thing, but coordinating and maximizing the combined efforts is another. In fact, the need for such an array of talent makes cancer treatment one of the most expensive services offered by major healthcare providers.
To streamline this multidisciplinary approach, one leading British health service is employing advanced video conferencing technology. It has turned the business meeting expertise of Barco video conference solutions into a virtual rallying point for its expert team of cancer fighters.
Oxford University Hospitals Looks for a Better Way
The healthcare service in question is the world-renowned Oxford University Hospitals network. Oxford is one of the largest teaching trusts in the UK, but also provides research and clinical care from its own biomedical center.
Oxford sought a better way of bringing together both people and information.
In February this year, Oxford began trialing a new form of clinical collaboration technology to better coordinate and facilitate meetings between the experts that make up its multidisciplinary cancer conferences. These conferences–otherwise known by the unfortunate name of Tumor Boards–are clinical discussions on the treatment of individual cancer sufferers that bring together specialists to agree on a method of treatment for a patient diagnosed with cancer. They involve the presentation and analysis of complex medical information, including patient records, imaging, pathology results, and genetic testing.
Given that many of the expert minds needed to formulate a treatment plan using all this data are often remotely located, Oxford sought a better way of bringing together both people and information.
Their innovation was to invite the audio-visual expertise of Barco into their collaboration.
The Visuals of a Barco Video Conference Solution
European-based Barco creates all kinds of visual communication spectaculars. They produce video conferencing hardware and software on a wall-sized scale, and were recently involved in staging an immersive digital walk-through of Vincent van Gogh’s works, which you can see below:
The company’s work in the medical field is just as impressive. Barco specializes in making dazzling 4K medical and other kinds of displays. The Oxford project, however, is more about collecting and presenting a range of medical data that can be put to practical use in a cancer conference. Leaning on their video conference technologies, Barco is helping streamline the preparation, management, and follow-up of meetings between experts remotely located across the UK–and potentially Europe as well.
The Barco setup offers obvious cost-saving potential by eradicating travel and reducing time commitments.
The resulting Synergi solution lets healthcare experts share their technical and visual information from any point within their network. The humans themselves can interact with each other like any regular group video meeting, but now all their detailed presentations can come along for the ride. It does away with the need to transport sensitive materials and allows visual information to be displayed in true-to-life quality so it can form the basis of a diagnosis.
The setup offers obvious cost-saving potential by eradicating travel and reducing time commitments. However, the project might be even more effective if a little more of Barco’s sense of flair was employed.
Immersive Medicine Isn’t Far Off
We’ve seen video conferencing used to bring together distant medical experts many times. In the U.S., it has been used to give advice during surgery and create telehealth clinics. In the UK, it’s been used to bring specialist services like orthopedic telemedicine to remote communities and to potentially revitalize the famed National Health Service by embracing a digital health system.
But none of these examples have yet to capitalize on the immersive visual capabilities of video conferencing. They are practical solutions that focus on face-to-face communication and examination by proxy. Technologies like 4K video presentation and wall-sized displays could make things far more visually arresting and could make details easier for doctors to see.
Video conferencing has more to offer the fight against cancer than giving every expert a seat at the Avengers-style conference table.
Take the van Gogh production as an example. That blend of audio and visual within a 3D space could give doctors and patients a whole new understanding of the intricacies of medical imaging. We’ve already seen the first demonstrations of 3D “holographic” medical displays within a conference setting and full holographic reproductions of the body via video call are also on the way.
So, could those cancer conferences one day become virtual hyper-reality clinics where patients can meet with a team of remotely located doctors in real time and receive a diagnosis and perhaps a referral to a specialist?
Even without going that far, the Oxford experts could be presented with diagnostic tools that float across wall-sized displays if they let Barco push its technical boundaries. Video conferencing has more to offer the fight against cancer than giving every expert a seat at the Avengers-style conference table. It could eventually provide imaging and live interaction on a scale befitting a Hollywood blockbuster.