Telemedicine for remote oil and gas operations with ExxonMobil

Case Studies
Photo of ExxonMobil offshore oil platform

Following a successful trial of a new telemedicine service in Australia, ExxonMobil has installed GEIS® General Examination HD Cameras across its operations in the Bass Strait.

ExxonMobil Australia group is a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corporation, one of the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas companies.

Known around the world for fuel and lubricant brands that include Esso, Exxon, Mobil, and ExxonMobil Chemical, the group has been operating in Australia since 1895.

According to ExxonMobil Australia’s Manager Medicine and Occupational Health, Dr Marcus Hirschfield (pictured), one of the biggest challenges in the oil and gas industry is how best to provide services, including medical services, to staff working on remote operations offshore.

The Visionflex GEIS® General Examination Camera HD has been part of the telemedicine solution for ExxonMobil Australia.

Following a successful trial of a new telemedicine service in Australia, the company has installed the GEIS® General Examination Camera HD across its operations in the Bass Strait.

“The cameras have definitely improved our service delivery in remote locations by providing clearer visuals when needed during a medical examination,” said Dr Hirschfield.

“The benefit in using telemedicine that utilises the GEIS® camera, is that it provides comfort and support to both the person providing first aid and the patient, by having the visuals and the feeling of a ‘doctor/medic in the room’ rather than relying on telephone discussions.

“The higher resolution close-up views afforded by the GEIS® cameras are very helpful to our clinicians.”

Dr Hirschfield said there are also financial benefits from the use of telemedicine services in remote offshore operations “where it can be shown that potentially unnecessary onshore medical assessments, and even possibly medevacs, can be avoided”.

Delivering health services in remote offshore locations

In the Bass Strait – the sea strait separating the Australian states of Victoria and Tasmania – ExxonMobil Australia operates 23 offshore platforms and installations, 14 of which are manned.

Up to 300 personnel are living and working offshore at any one time. These platforms operate 24 hours a day and crews typically work 12-hour shifts on a seven-days-on and seven-days-off roster. 

Situated 20 kilometres from Sale in South Gippsland, Victoria, the Longford Gas Plant is the onshore receiving point for oil and gas from Bass Strait. 

All remote sites have highly competent first aid trained staff who liaise with the onshore clinical staff for additional support.

The company’s workforce health services are managed by ExxonMobil Australia’s Medicine and Occupational Health department, which:

  • Provides clinical services.
  • Prevents and controls health risks (acute and long-term).
  • Mitigates impacts of health issues on safety and operations.
  • Identifies and evaluates health risks and provides controls and recommendations to protect workers.

Health services provided include:

  • Work-related injury and illness: optimal management on-site.
  • Personal health and return to work: fitness for duty evaluation/disability case management.
  • Medical surveillance: occupational exams, disease prevention, alcohol and drug testing.
  • Travel health and vaccinations: travel visits and exams, health education and prevention, vaccination programs.
  • Emergency preparedness and response: on-site medical response teams, medical evacuation, regional response support, global guidance, rapidly mobilise medical teams.
  • Health consulting: occupational health service design.
  • Wellness programs: promotes employee wellness.

A successful telemedicine trial

In mid-2020, telemedicine services were initially trialled on three offshore locations and at the Longford Gas Plant. In addition to existing computer systems at these locations, first-aid rooms were kitted with a combined camera/speaker unit for the purpose of telemedicine consultations and a Visionflex GEIS® General Examination Camera HD to enable clinical examinations with diagnostic quality video and still images.

External consultants were used when initially setting up telemedicine for ExxonMobil operations and GEIS® cameras were recommended for use.

Based on positive results, telemedicine services were extended to a further 11 off-shore locations, with works completed over Q1 2021. 

The company has now established telemedicine services between Melbourne, the Longford Gas Plant, and offshore platforms in Bass Strait, with telemedicine services and GEIS® cameras available on all manned offshore platforms. 

The GEIS® camera allows the Offshore First Aider to use the camera with automatic or manual focus for clear and crisp images, which augment video footage from a traditional web camera.

Additional GEIS® camera snap-on accessories that can be added to the existing setup include a tongue depressor attachment for images of the oral cavity, a dermatology hood for skin and eye assessments, and a wound stick for wound management.

The Visionflex GEIS® General Examination Camera HD can be used in a wide range of clinical applications where clear, precise, and high-quality images are essential.

All photos in this article courtesy of ExxonMobil

For clinical examinations, the GEIS® camera is simple to use, mobile, and manoeuvrable. It provides high-quality video and still images in full HD 1080p resolution, enhancing diagnostic outcomes.

Dr Hirschfield said while the camera/speaker and Zoom meeting is valuable in providing guidance to those administering first aid and/or one-on-one consultations with workers in remote locations, the additional GEIS® camera provides a more detailed view during medical consultations. Examples might include a cut, abrasion, or skin rash. 

Importantly, said Dr Hirschfield, telemedicine utilising the GEIS® camera is improving outcomes for patients and clinicians.

The GEIS® offers auto or manual focus, LED Illumination control and image capture all in one small, single-hand-operated camera.

The camera is teleconferencing reading, and its 16:9 images can be viewed on the Visionflex ProEX or any PC/Mac through a standard USB2 interface.

The GEIS® is IEC 60601 compliant, making it suitable for clinical medical assessments.

About Visionflex

Visionflex is a leader in telehealth technology. The company was formed in 2014 by two Australian engineers with the mission of making world-class healthcare available to everyone, everywhere.

From Antarctica to the Middle East, Europe, Asia, India, Canada, and the USA, Visionflex is helping to improve health outcomes around the globe.