New Hanover Regional Medical Center and SEAHEC have partnered in developing and supporting interactive telecommunications systems since 1991. Initially a member of the Vision Carolina Distance Learning trial (1991-1994), SEAHEC/NHRMC became one of the first sites on the North Carolina Information Highway (NCIH) in August of 1994.
Through the NCIH connectivity, and now IP Internet connectivity, residents, faculty and local physicians participate in educational conferences from the UNC-CH School of Medicine and other NC medical schools. In addition health department personnel from over 13 Southeastern counties received training via the Public Health Training and Information Network, and over 40 individuals received health care Masters Degrees from UNC and ECU all without leaving New Hanover County. SEAHEC has used this connectivity to deliver and participate in accredited educational programs with other AHEC Centers across the state and other regional health care institutions.
Since 1995 SEAHEC and NHRMC have collaborated on the NHRMC Telemedicine Network which includes several hospitals in Southeastern NC. Presently the network consists of NHRMC, Pender Memorial Hospital in Burgaw and Dosher Memorial Hospital in Southport. The NHRMC Telemedicine Network has facilitated clinical consults in cardiology and dermatology as well as Continuing Education and Continuing Medical Education programs. Examples of programming include the weekly Internal Medicine Grand Rounds conference, monthly Trauma Conference, Nursing Grand Rounds and Cardiac Grand Rounds as well as others.
In 2004, as part of a National Cancer Institute grant, NHRMC installed a Telesynergy telemedicine workstation in the NHRMC Zimmer Cancer Center and at the UNC School of Medicine Radiation Oncology Center. The NCI grant was funded to increase minority participation in Oncology Clinical Trials and NHRMC and UNC School of Medicine partnered in the grant. The Telesynergy system allows physicians at both institutions to collaborate on patient care and share educational activities.
NHRMC and SEAHEC initiated the NHRMC Pediatric Telemedicine Program in 2006 with a grant from the Duke Endowment. This program facilitates clinical consults from pediatric physicians at the UNC School of Medicine to pediatric patients in the Women's & Children's Pediatric Specialties Clinic. Using telemedicine allows NHRMC to offer increased access to pediatric specialists.
NHRMC's involvement with telemedicine and interactive video conferencing has grown over the years. This technology is used within the NHRMC organization and for business and medical communication outside the organization. NHRMC has almost 20 video conferencing end points located at the 17th Street campus, Pender Hospital, Dosher Hospital and at the UNC School of Medicine. Future plans include additional locations within the organization and increasing use of the technology with other locations.