SOURCE: Polycom, Inc.

Polycom, Inc.

September 16, 2009 08:30 ET

Mexican Health Officials Help Manage H1N1 Flu Outbreak With Polycom Visual Communication

In Race to Contain Epidemic, Mexico's CENETEC Relies on Face-to-Face Interaction to Rally Thousands of Medical Professionals Behind Response Plan

MEXICO CITY and PLEASANTON, CA--(Marketwire - September 16, 2009) - As the world braces for the coming winter flu season, health officials in Mexico expect to battle an anticipated rise in H1N1 flu cases with interactive visual communication systems from Polycom (NASDAQ: PLCM), the global leader in telepresence, video and voice communication solutions.

During April and May, Mexico's National Center for Health Technology Excellence (CENETEC) relied on Polycom and other video conferencing systems to help them stem the initial outbreak of H1N1. Experts at Mexico's Secretariat of Health used Polycom systems to communicate face-to-face with some 1,500 health officials to help determine the source of the flu, where and how it was spreading, and effective treatments.

When the virus emerged in April, Mexican officials immediately recognized the need for clear, streamlined communication and collaboration to help contain the outbreak. So they turned to their video communication network outfitted with Polycom systems.

"Real-time communication and interaction was essential in responding to H1N1, and that made video a crucial element in our approach to managing the crisis," said Adrian Pacheco, biomedical engineer and assistant director of telemedicine for Mexico's Secretariat of Health. "Interactive video enables timely information to be distributed to the right people, because when you're fighting an epidemic, there's no time to lose."

In the race to contain the virus, interactive visual communication saved time -- and possibly lives. "Everyone was able to see expressions, ask questions more easily, and truly understand the information," said Pacheco. "And the face-to-face connection gave health professionals the trust and confidence they needed to exchange very sensitive information."

Mexico has earned praise for its rapid and effective response. Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, commended Mexican officials for slowing the initial spread of the virus, which in turn gave other countries time to prepare their own responses.(i)

"The Secretariat of Health drove the effort to use video conferencing to increase and simplify communication across all institutions," said Pacheco. "It was invaluable in determining what different health professionals were seeing nationwide."

Using Polycom systems installed at its headquarters, the Secretariat of Health established voice and video communications with health centers, hospitals and universities throughout Mexico. CENETEC operates a video communications network that includes a range of Polycom video conferencing systems located in Mexico City and in 12 different states. The network was installed by Grupo SIO, a regional Polycom channel partner with expertise in telemedicine applications.

Using Polycom conference infrastructure, CENETEC regularly conducted multipoint video conferences with 16 health centers, hospitals and universities. During the initial swine flu outbreak, health officials relied on the network to host a series of educational sessions covering H1N1 pathogeny, immunologic response, complications, outpatient education, and psychological reactions of caregivers. Experts also hosted round tables to discuss the flu outbreak.

The sessions have enabled direct communication with 1,500 health workers. CENETEC estimates another 1,500 have accessed recordings of the sessions via retransmission over the video communication network or as streaming content over the Web. Mexico's health experts also anticipate the video communication network will prove invaluable this fall as the traditional winter flu season takes hold and more outbreaks may occur.

In Mexico, health officials regularly leverage the video conferencing network for a range of telemedicine and tele-education uses. For instance, to bring expert care to residents of Mexico's impoverished Oaxaca state, CENETEC uses 15 mobile Polycom units that travel from location to location. The systems are set up in a location esplanade -- typically a town dwelling -- and health care workers see patients for four to five days. In a typical month, medical personnel will treat 200 patients. The field teams use a 512Kbps satellite link (384 Kbps is used for videoconferencing) to consult with experts in the cities of Mexico and Oaxaca.

"We've had outstanding performance from these Polycom solutions and with the installation and support services from Grupo SIO," said Pacheco, who credits Polycom's standard-based architecture for CENETEC's ability to video conference with a wide range of systems. "Each session performed without any interruptions or disconnections, even though we conducted them over the Internet and were interacting with legacy systems and other vendors' equipment."

"CENETEC's video conferencing network needs to be reliable and provide high quality, which is why we recommended the Polycom systems," said Jorge Perafán, General Director, Grupo SIO. "The organization needs to be able to connect with other agencies and organizations in situations like the H1N1 crisis, and the Polycom systems allow them to easily connect with other standards-based systems regardless of manufacturer. The systems also provide a reliable call experience, even over the public Internet, which adds to the overall network reliability and ultimately to greater customer satisfaction."

Polycom provides a range of telepresence, video and voice conferencing solutions that allow individuals and groups to meet naturally over distance, enabling more productive meetings and real-time decision making.

About Polycom

Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM) is the global leader in telepresence, video, and voice solutions and a visionary in communications that empower people to connect and collaborate everywhere. Visit www.polycom.com for more information and follow us on Twitter @AllAboutPolycom.

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(i) "Mexico wins praise for swine flu response," Olga R. Rodriguez, AP, July 4, 2009. Accessed on July 29 at http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=7999033

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