Mercy Ships’ newest hospital ship Global Mercy will leverage high-throughput satellite (HTS) connectivity to bring life-saving healthcare to the world’s deprived regions
Global Mercy will be world’s largest civilian hospital ship when it is brought into service later this year and is set to more than double the surgical and training capability Mercy Ships provides. With six operating theatres, the 174-m, 37,000-tonne ship will house more than 600 volunteers from all over the world.
It will use SES Networks’ Signature maritime satellite communications for data transfers, internet access, medical staff communications, training and remote telemedicine support.
“In order for Mercy Ships to operationally run more smoothly – wherever in the world Global Mercy is berthed – communication and connectivity will be essential,” said SES Networks vice president for global sales of cruise maritime services Simon Maher.
Global Mercy is designed to enable healthcare professionals to deliver the highest levels of care wherever it is in the world.
“To do this year in, and year out, it will require an exceptional, future-proof connectivity solution,” Mr Maher told Riviera Maritime Media. “Improved transfer speeds and seamless connectivity for the end user mean that medical staff on Global Mercy are able to fully implement remote viewing for diagnostic equipment,” he explained.
This includes digital scopes and medical scanners and enabling specialists to remotely diagnose diseases, illnesses, and injuries from anywhere in the world.
“This functionality and the global reach it provides has also enabled Mercy Ships to accelerate the diagnosis procedure, and reduce operating costs,” said Mr Maher.
Before satellite connectivity enabled effective remote viewing for these technologies, a messenger had to be sent to deliver biopsy samples to the nearest town that had adequate connectivity. This often led to week-long delays between diagnosis and treatment.
“Reliable connectivity has operational benefits beyond diagnostics,” said Mr Maher. “It is allowing seamless digital record keeping, and helping the organisation share information about its activities with the wider world. Being able to reliably transfer large files and 4K ultra-high definition videos is having an impact throughout the organisation, improving both patient care and enabling fundraising activities.”
Mercy Ships uses onboard technology and satellite communications to improve medical training in target communities. This is a core part of its current operations, and regularly includes training that upgrades routine diagnoses, procedures and clinical practice, as well as helping to train local surgeons. “High-speed, high-bandwidth connectivity is also enabling virtual training sessions and the easier set-up of onshore workshops,” said Mr Maher.
By increasing connectivity, Mercy Ships will have access to multiple gigabits of bandwidth, consistent and high-quality global broadband service, deployment flexibility and the capacity to improve the lives of many more people.
“It has been incredibly rewarding to see the innovative ways it has been used to deliver healthcare and build communities’ medical infrastructure, and we are looking forward to continuing to work in partnership with Mercy Ships,” said Mr Maher.
SES provides HTS communications to Mercy Ships and other shipowners through its combined network of geostationary satellites, providing C-band and Ku-band connectivity and medium Earth orbit satellites delivering Ka-band communications.
Mercy Ships estimates its volunteers on Global Mercy will transform more than 150,000 lives over the next 50 years. The vast majority of patients Mercy Ships serves have an income of less than US$2 a day and no access to healthcare.
Mercy Ships as an international organisation that deploys hospital ships to some of the world’s least developed countries. The organisation leaves a lasting impact on the regions it visits through its training and capacity-building work within local healthcare systems.
It also leaves clinicians better equipped to provide higher standards of care and a pathway for continuous local improvement for generations to come.
Vessel communications and satellite connectivity will be discussed during Riviera’s series of virtual conferences and webinars during Q2 2021 - use this link to access more details and register for these events