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Kate Hennessy
Smarter Writer

Kate Hennessy is a freelance journalist who has been writing about technology, small business, sustainability and corporate social responsibility for over a decade

Kate Hennessy
Smarter Writer

Kate Hennessy is a freelance journalist who has been writing about technology, small business, sustainability and corporate social responsibility for over a decade

Fast connections are essential for Qscan Radiology Clinics. The business's 16 centres in Brisbane are linked by fibre-optic lines, and out in the field its consulting doctors use Telstra USB 4G mobile broadband for high-speed access* to medical data.

The business's 16 centres in Brisbane are linked by fibre-optic lines, and out in the field its consulting doctors use Telstra USB 4G mobile broadband for high-speed access* to medical data.

“We decided early on to connect all our sites with fibre-optic lines. That’s not a cheap exercise but there are major advantages,” explains Dr Eric Sclavos, one of a group of radiologists that owns the clinics. “If you went in for a CT of your brain, then I can quickly get your scans to the guy who’s an expert in that field, in this case - a neuro radiologist, to pick that up and report on it from wherever he’s working.”

Qscan clinician giving scan

4G magic

Just a decade ago, Dr Sclavos would have had to drive to a hospital to do an initial report on a case, then drive back to his base clinic to complete the report and update the image archives. Scans would be couriered between sites, adding time and cost to the process. Now patients’ scans are stored in digital image archives, protected by secure back-ups and password-protected access for approved medical professionals.

Each medical scan can be upwards of 500KB (roughly 50 times the size of an average email), but it’s easily handled by the 4G network.

I can now log onto our systems at home or any of the sites I work at, either through the fibre-optic line or the 4G mobile network.

- DR ERIC SCLAVOS, QSCAN RADIOLOGY CLINICS

Saving lives with 4G

“A few months ago I had a request on a Saturday afternoon to review a case from the Redcliffe Hospital Emergency,” he says. “A six-month-old baby had fallen out of his high chair an hour before and sustained a serious head injury. The doctors at the hospital suspected brain trauma and requested an urgent CT scan of the baby’s brain to determine treatment options.

“I always have my laptop and Telstra USB 4G device with me, so even in New Farm Park I was able to examine the patient’s images and diagnose a critical skull fracture. Within seconds, my diagnosis reached the treating doctor, who proceeded with the right treatment. With bleeding in the head, the pressure on the brain could potentially stop the kid breathing inside two hours. If I’d had to drive to make the call, the delay could have been fatal.

Tips

  1. Don’t be scared to spend the money on your IT early. Our up-front investment in high-speed connections has allowed the efficient flow of work between our sites. If a radiologist at location A has 100 cases and a colleague at location B has 150 cases we can quickly balance the workflow.
  2. Most of the Qscan doctors spend a day or two each week in a hospital, away from the clinic. We connect to the clinic with our smartphones, and also use the Telstra USB 4G as back-up at our sites in the event that the lines go down.
  3. We bought new smartphones for 40 of our staff because I’m a big fan of them using email and the calendar to coordinate. Now they manage appointments as they move around.

How Telstra helps Qscan

Before high-speed broadband, a medical scan would have to be analysed by a specialist on site or delivered to another by hand. As Dr Sclavos points out, this meant general radiologists would report anything that was done on their site. 

Instead, Qscan was established by radiologists with an array of sub specialities. “This combination of the latest equipment and high-speed data now means that Qscan patients and their referring doctors have real-time speciality reporting by whichever of our 26 consultant radiologists is best suited,” explains Dr Sclavos. “It results in superior levels of patient care.”

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