Serving miners in the Australian outback
Miners and their immediate families are another group with an elevated risk of developing lung cancer and respiratory diseases such as pneumoconiosis (black lung disease), silicosis, asbestosis, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and mesothelioma. The incidence of lung cancer in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia is around 30% higher than in the rest of the country.
Screening miners and their families in the rough terrain of the Australian outback, in off-road locations that often lack a stable electricity supply, posed a significant challenge for front-line specialist medical service provider Heart of Australia. To solve the challenge, the Philips engineering team supported Heart of Australia to design the world’s first solar and battery powered low-dose CT scanner housed in a ruggedized 26-meter B-double truck. While the unit can operate stand-alone in terms of its power requirement, it is not stand-alone in terms of clinical expertise. An advanced tele-PACS communication system means that remote clinicians can view CT scans within minutes, make a diagnosis, and decide on the best treatment for the patient. Philips Incisive CT scanner and artificial intelligence (AI) driven Precise Image software ensure diagnostic-quality imaging at the low radiation dose required for screening programs.
“People exposed to dust and respiratory hazards in mines, has been a significant issue with many miners developing mine dust lung diseases. Miners now get much more than just a CT chest scan. They get a comprehensive health assessment including lung function, occupational health checks, and hearing tests. We coordinate with the whole care team to discuss what could be wrong with each patient and how best to treat them next. It’s much more than just taking a scan and moving on to the next mining town,” said Professor Catherine Jones, lead radiologist at Heart of Australia.