Medical technology “matchmaking” to help rural and remote residents

Pioneering technology to help meet the medical needs of rural and remote communities is coming under scrutiny today (Feb 4) and tomorrow.

Electronic innovations which could save rural patients from travelling to bigger healthcare centres are being showcased at an international health technology conference hosted by the Centre for Rural Health in Inverness.


The aim of the Competitive Health Services in Sparsely Populated Areas conference is to match successful ‘ehealth’ innovations with new partners across Northern Europe.


Clinical and technical health professionals from Scotland, Finland, Norway and Sweden are attending the conference which is part of a project part funded by the Northern Periphery Programme of the European Union.


Conference delegates will be able to see new pieces of kit such as a system which allows GP practices in rural areas to record ECGs, blood pressure and lung function using a single computer unit.


Results can then be transmitted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness to obtain speedy advice direct from consultants.


This technology has been developed by Inverness based company DanMedical and has been successfully piloted on Skye and in the Inverness area and is now attracting interest from Finland.


Representatives from Sweden will be also demonstrating Check-up – a portable system for monitoring patients’ physiological signs at a distance. Equipment bags are located in rural health centres where patients quickly learn to record their own readings.


Around 20 organisations will be highlighting new initiatives at the conference.


David Heaney is Associate Director of the Centre for Rural Health - a collaborative venture between the University of Aberdeen and the UHI Millennium Institute.

Mr Heaney, who is the Scottish lead on the Northern Periphery Programme, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this two day conference which is an opportunity to hear about e health innovations in the partner countries and exchange knowledge and view demonstrations of products and services.


“Each country involved in the Programme has identified the e health initiatives that help overcome the healthcare challenges that face the medical professionals and patients in remote and rural communities.


“The aim of the conference is to see if we can match innovators with partners in other countries to transplant successful innovation across northern Europe.”