Integrated telemedicine solution supports Genavir crew and scientist welfare
(19 November 2018 - Marlink) Genavir, the vessel operating arm of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) is using Marlink’s sophisticated crew health & safety management service, XChange Telemed, to minimise the impact of illness and injury on five ocean-going research vessels; Alis, Antea, L’Atalante, Pourquoi Pas? & Thalassa.
All five vessels are part of the French Oceanographic Fleet and were already equipped with Marlink’s customised Sealink VSAT. Now with XChange Telemed fully integrated, crew and scientists aboard benefit from a highly reliable direct link to medical experts on shore should they fall ill or suffer an injury.
Remote medical assistance is especially important for research vessels. In Genavir’s case, its ships are often chartered and deployed for 2-3 months at sea on a scientific mission without a port call. Previously, any serious medical conditions or injuries on board could entail a return to port, resulting in a premature end to the scientific mission.
By providing a high quality link to medical experts on shore, XChange Telemed can help to mitigate the need for returning to port for medical reasons, and contribute to the comfort, wellbeing and recovery of the patient while the vessel remains at sea.
Considering the public funding nature of many scientific missions, remaining at sea for the full duration is the only way to complete the planned research, as financial challenges would normally rule out restarting the project. Genavir chose XChange Telemed to avoid these circumstances and enable its vessel charterers to maximise their investment and time at sea.
XChange Telemed integrates a reinforced, vibration-proof hard-case with CE certified medical equipment for on board diagnostics by designated medical crew, an intuitive touch-screen user interface and High Definition (HD) camera, all of which seamlessly link with Marlink’s XChange communications management platform and Sealink VSAT to provide a direct live video and secure data connection to doctors on shore.
Medical diagnostic data taken from the medical instruments can be viewed remotely alongside the patient’s own medical file in the online and secure XChange Telemed web portal, ensuring the remote doctor has access to all pertinent information about the specific illness or injury, in addition to the patient’s medical history during video consultations.
Through integration with Sealink VSAT, XChange Telemed sessions are bandwidth prioritised to ensure high availability of service for connecting with medical staff ashore. This integration of application and network allows for greater control and optimisation of the link on ship and ashore, ensuring fast data connectivity and best quality video, audio and HD images.
Providing the flexibility to integrate XChange Telemed into their existing welfare programs, for the first time in a maritime telemedicine service, customers can choose between utilising remote medical assistance from compatible public Telemedical Maritime Assistance Service (TMAS) centres, or an appointed doctor or a private medical organisation. This adds flexibility and is especially important for charterers who may already have existing medical support agreements in place.
“By combining live data from the on board medical kit and patient file with a live video link, XChange Telemed enables professional support from shore for trained medical personnel on board,” said Pierre Aldebert, QHSE Manager, Genavir. “It will help to diagnose conditions and develop treatments for crew members and scientists, which may enable our ships to remain at sea and complete their mission in the event of illness or injury.”
Genavir’s research vessels have been enjoying the high bandwidth provided by Marlink’s VSAT services for 6 years. Using a customised configuration, Sealink provides the speed and capacity needed for collaboration with colleagues on shore and the transfer of research data, in addition to flexibility that can accommodate special projects, such as the 2014 Night of the Abyss event.
For this educational event, Marlink was tasked with temporarily boosting bandwidth for a short period, enabling Ifremer scientists to conduct a live video broadcast and conference from the ‘Pourquoi pas?’ research ship located in the mid-Atlantic. In addition to live video of presentations by scientists on board, the increased bandwidth also enabled a live stream of footage from an underwater ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle).
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Genavir is a French company, set up as an economic interest group (EIG) since 1976 with 4 members: IFREMER, IRD, CNRS and IRSTEA. Genavir manages and operates research vessels and equipment owned by IFREMER, IRD and IRSTEA.
The fleet includes nine research vessels and various acoustic equipment and underwater vehicles. Three deep blue vessels (Pourquoi Pas?, L’Atalante and Thalassa) are operating worldwide. Two regional vessels, l’Antea in the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, and l’Alis in the Pacific Ocean with Noumea as home port. Three coastal vessels are operating in the French Channel, Bisquay and Mediterranean sea and a small hydrographic boat is involved in shallow water cruises. All the vessels are equipped with the relevant scientific equipment.
A team of thirty engineers and technicians are in charge of acoustic equipment such as multichannel seismic acquisition chain, multibeam echo sounders, sub-bottom profilers, acoustic Doppler current-meter etc. A second team of thirty engineers and technicians are in charge of underwater vehicles including the manned submarine Nautile and the ROV Victor. Both are designed for deep sea dives down to 6000m.
Genavir is in charge of at least 90 scientific cruises per year, which represents 1900 days of activity at sea per year. Genavir is a shipmanager in charge of crewing and maintenance of research vessel as well as acoustic equipment and underwater systems. Its total permanent staff includes 203 seamen (85 officers), 81 engineers and technicians, 31administrative staff and 40 fixed term contracts.