French Guiana: telemedecine for patients in isolated areas

The Region

French Guiana is a French overseas region, located on the northern Atlantic coast of Latin America. It has a surface of 83,534 km² and 229,000 inhabitants, half of whom live in its capital city, Cayenne. Most people and infrastructures are concentrated in the north-east coastal zone.

The Challenge

In French Guiana, the access to medical care of people living in isolated areas is severely limited, as hospital facilities are only available in urban areas.

The Satellite Solution

Since 2000, portable medical examination equipment has been made available in 15 isolated areas. A satellite communication system links the portable telemedicine stations to the Andrée Rosemon de Cayenne Hospital. The satellite connection transmits all data about the patient as collected on the spot by the paramedical staff. Results of medical exams (including electrocardiogrammes, blood tests, etc.), and images of the patients are transmitted in real time to the hospital. There, specialists interpret the results also in real time and offer a remote diagnosis accordingly.

Patient data confidentiality is 99% guaranteed by the Telemedicine network and validated by the National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties.

The service was implemented by the Regional Council, the Andrée Rosemon de Cayenne Hospital and the French Ministry of Health in collaboration with the French space sgency CNES and MEDEcine Spatiale (MEDES).

The Result

Since 2001, 3,162 patients benefited from remote access to specialised health care, 477 of whom during 2010, in an increasingly large number of fields ranging from dermatology, parasitology, ophthalmology, gynaecology and obstetrics, to cytology, haematology, cardiology, neurosurgery, paediatrics, traumatology, cancerology, diabetology and radiology.
Since the beginning of 2011, the Andrée Rosemon de Cayenne Hospital has been testing a robot for echography, allowing for remote screening thanks to a satellite connection.

“Satellite connections are the only means of communication in 80 % of Guyana’s territory. They were the ideal solution for granting access to care to patients located in remote areas”. Dr Thierry Le Guen

Key fact/figure: 3162 patients benefited from remote care