Stockholm Challenge award for project linking Cambodian health workers
with Harvard Medical School
13 June 2006
Boston, USA and Stockholm, Sweden. Operation Village
Health, an Internet-based health consultation program, linking Harvard
Medical School physicians to healthcare workers in Cambodia won top honours
at the Stockholm Challenge, a global initiative recognizing the benefits of
information technology to communities around the world. The Challenge
finalists were all honoured at the award celebrations, attended by over 400
guests in the Stockholm City Hall in May.
The project was developed and managed by Partners Telemedicine. Partners
Telemedicine, which delivers quality patient care outside of the hospital or
doctor’s office, is a division of Partners HealthCare. It is affiliated with
Harvard Medical School and was founded by Massachusetts General and Brigham
& Women’s Hospitals in Boston.
Operation Village Health enables U.S.
physicians affiliated with Harvard Medical School to provide clinical
recommendations to Cambodian health workers in remote villages via an
email-based system for triage and physician consultation. These online
consultations allow isolated healthcare workers to send clinical documents
and images to Harvard-affiliated physicians on the other side of the globe.
After review, recommendations are returned within hours, enabling a unique
educational opportunity for the Cambodian healthcare workers and improved
care for the local community.
“Since 2001, over 600 patient visits have
been completed through our telemedicine program and we hope to expand into
other remote areas, using this program as a model for future cross-cultural,
Internet-based healthcare initiatives,” said Paul Heinzelmann, M.D., Project
Leader of Operation Village Health at Partners Telemedicine. “We are
continuing to expand this program through innovative applications of
information and communication technologies, including the development of a
digital pen system to enhance the quality of transcription and clinical
documents composed by the local healthcare workers.”
Cambodia ranks among the highest in poverty levels, where disparities in
healthcare access are great, particularly in rural areas. There is also a
severe shortage of healthcare workers and the country is facing a severe
Partners Telemedicine works with Cambodian physicians at Ratanakiri
Referral Hospital in Ban Lung and nurses at the Rovieng Health Center, in
cooperation with Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope.
Cambodia has established the infrastructure for Operation Village Health.
Through Operation Village Health, the rate of offsite patient referrals and
the duration of chronic medical problems among villagers have decreased
since the program was established.
About the Stockholm Challenge
The Stockholm Challenge is a non-profit initiative based at the KTH Royal
Institute of Technology, and is sponsored by the City of Stockholm,
Ericsson, and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). Event
sponsors also include Sun Microsystems, the Swedish Program for Information
and Communication Technology in Developing Regions (SPIDER), Cisco and the
International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
The Stockholm Challenge is a world forum for IT pioneers from around the
world to showcase projects of excellence and demonstrate how information
technology can improve living conditions and increase economic growth in all
parts of the world. Over 1,100 entries were submitted by projects from over
50 countries for the 2006 challenge.
The Stockholm Challenge jury noted the following about Operation Village
Health: "This project is a practical demonstration of cooperation across
cultural and political divides, using ICT to improve the health conditions
in Cambodia. Medical services often do not reach the people who most need
them. Intermediaries, red tape, education difficulties and poverty create
barriers. The jury highlights ICT uses at the grassroots to bypass those
barriers to good medical services for the people and be rapidly extended to
meet the Millennium Development goals in disadvantaged communities
throughout the world and Operation Village Health is a fine example of