A powerful audio-video platform developed by CSIRO’s Data61 has the potential to raise the standard in the delivery of medical services internationally.

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Coviu, a Data61 start-up, and SunWo Medical Management, a Chinese company which provides "medical tourism" services, have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement which sees the largest data innovation group in Australia licencing its digital service delivery platform to support health consultations for Chinese citizens.

This medical tourism sector is primed for growth as an increasing number of the Chinese public are seeking better quality healthcare overseas, particularly in cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Under the agreement, Coviu and SunWo intend to collaborate around further tailoring the platform to support the sharing of medical expertise across borders.

SunWo specialises in helping its clients source and access medical treatment and hospitals in the US, Germany, Japan, and hopefully Australia in the future.

The company had been using traditional video conferencing services like Skype to connect patients, doctors and translators for such things as pre-treatment consultations and follow-up appointments.

However, SunWo found the traditional platforms to be limited and restrictive in terms of sharing medical imaging and patient data.

A recent trial of the Coviu platform impressed the company with its superior audio-video quality, including its capability around the live-sharing of medical data and imaging during calls.  

SunWo's Chief Operating Officer, Mr Ben Chan, said the willingness to embrace new technology was a high priority for SunWo, which was constantly looking to enhance customer experience.

"The Coviu platform has the potential to vastly improve the quality of online interactions between patients, medical professionals and translators, which are so important to overcoming geographical barriers between countries," Mr Chan said.

Coviu Project Director, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, said the platform's functionality made it extremely compatible with the customer service aspect of face-to-face medical consultations online.

"In many ways this platform usurps traditionally cumbersome video-conferencing systems, with its multi-party, feature-rich video capability, which supports the effortless sharing of data-hungry information such as high-definition medical imagery," Dr Pfeiffer said.

Data61 CEO Adrian Turner said this was a prime example of how innovative digital technology could be used to catalyse the growth industries of the 21st Century.

"Australia has a trusted world-class health system and renowned medical research capability," Mr Turner said.

"Here we have a Chinese company looking to Australian innovation to help grow its business in an area where two key services industries – tourism and healthcare – intersect.

"By deepening these types of relationships we benefit not only through the transfer of our digital technology, but also from potential growth in medical tourism."

Domestically, the Coviu platform can also support the expansion of 'telehealth' services in regional and remote parts of Australia, as well as in urban areas.

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