Overview
Polycom® has contributed to the international success of a self-sustainable telemedicine and e-health
programme in Kosovo by helping to rebuild the medical resources of the country.

Named the Telemedicine Programme of Kosovo (TPK), the programme has established a network
of telemedicine centres throughout the country designed to enable knowledge-sharing and medical
collaboration.


Each telemedicine centre is based on a Polycom room video conferencing system that links to
the other telemedicine centres in Kosovo as well as to seven local hospitals, along with links to
international medical expertise in well-equipped and resourced hospitals in the University of Arizona,
Tucson, Arizona, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, Graz University, Austria,
Regensburg University, Germany, Oslo University, Olso, Norway and more than 20 other universities
and hospitals across Europe and the rest of the world.

The TPK is the first of many initiatives of this kind to be instigated in underdeveloped countries by
the International Virtual e-Hospital (IVeH) programme and is now world-renowned as a model for
telemedicine success in developing countries.

The International Virtual e-Hospital Programme
The International Virtual e-Hospital (IVeH) programme (www.iveh.org) was established in 2001 by
Dr. Rifat Latifi, President and Chairman of the Board of the IVeH. Dr Latifi had the energy and vision
to campaign at the highest political level for a programme for rebuilding the medical systems in
developing countries through the introduction and implementation of telemedicine, tele-health and
virtual education programmes.

“The most significant challenges in implementing the IVeH programme is changing the mindset
of physicians and convincing governments of the need for such investments,” explained Dr Latifi.
“Creating true partnerships and transparency in the region has been the key to the programme’s
success.”

Since 2001, Dr Latifi and his team, have brought their vision to life by creating a network of
international partnership and sponsors. The result is that the IVeH has attracted support by European
Union (European Agency for Reconstruction, State Department of USA, USAID and industry partners).

The Telemedicine Programme of Kosovo
As a Kosovar himself, Dr Latifi recognised the medical infrastructure of Kosovo in particular was left in
a poor state by the 1990s Balkans war, by subsequent neglect, lack of funding and poor management.

 
     

 

  For instance, the new generation of medical graduates
after the war had not seen a patient in a clinic
throughout their entire education and medical school
classes were being held in the basements of homes.
Furthermore, many older professors, surgeons and
other doctors had not practiced advanced medicine
and/or surgery for more than a decade. This situation
severely hindered redevelopment of the healthcare
system in Kosovo. To Dr Latifi, telemedicine and
medical distance learning were the only practical
solutions for developing countries such as Kosovo.
Dr Latifi stated: “Kosovo, like so many other countries
in the developing world, had a stagnant and underresourced
healthcare system that urgently needed a
cost-effective and practical solution.”

Polycom Powering the Programme
With government approval and the financial backing
of the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR),
United States Department of State, the Bureau of
Education and Cultural Affairs, the TPK was able
to implement Polycom room video conferencing
equipment in its network of telemedicine centres.
These enabled them to connect to national and
international sources of medical expertise, including
the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo (UCCK).

The result was the delivery of a high level of medical
and clinical expertise to the heart of the Kosovo
medical community where it was urgently needed.
Each telemedicine centre throughout Kosovo
comprises video conferencing rooms, tele-consultation
rooms and telemedicine training rooms. The video
conferencing rooms are equipped with a Polycom
HD (high definition) room video conferencing system
supported by a central Polycom® RSSTM 2000 video
recording and streaming solution. The RSS 2000 is a
centralised server used by each centre for recording,
streaming and archiving multimedia conferences and
training sessions. This saves time and resources while
extending communication and enabling knowledgesharing
throughout Kosovo and international medical
communities. Polycom® Video Border Proxy™ (VBP™)
solution is a critical factor for ensuring secure,
seamless video collaboration with these outside
organisations.

  Delivering Life-saving Medical Resources
Employing the Polycom HD room video conferencing
systems, the TPK is able to deliver powerful
educational tools to medical personnel at the right time
and at the point of learning. As a result, the programme
is able to train tens of thousands of doctors, nurses,
other healthcare professionals and IT personnel on
how to use telemedicine and e-health applications
through a series of interactive and hands-on lectures.

Likewise, the Polycom equipment is contributing
to better diagnosis and improved patient care. For
example, the highly mobile Polycom video conferencing
units can be located at the patient’s bedside to allow
real-time expert observations from specialist physicians
in other countries. Everyone is a winner. Not only
patients but also doctors and nurses are benefiting
from the improved educational training and access to
the medical expertise provided by the network.

Big Plans for the Future
As a result of the proven success of the TPK
programme, the telemedicine model is subsequently
rolling out, as the Balkan Telemedicine Programme,
to further hospital networks in Albania, where 13
telemedicine centers are currently being build
(six already have been build and are operational),
Macedonia and Montenegro and other countries in the
region.

Furthermore, Dr Latifi and his colleagues are driving
the IVeH telemedicine initiative beyond the Balkans
into South Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and
South America.

Dr. Latifi concludes by confirming the replicable nature
of IVeH programme: “I picked Kosovo to launch the
programme because I knew the country the best. But
from the beginning, the concept of the International
Virtual e-Hospital was not meant only for Kosovo. The
concept is bigger than any one country.”
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