A TERMINAL FOR THE RECEPTION AND STORAGE OF ELECTROPHYSIOLOGICAL SIGNALS
Forbes, W. L.
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In Saskatchewan as well as in most other provinces of Canada there are vast areas with low population density. The provision of adequate health services for these areas is a difficult problem, largely due to the shortage of medical personnel, mainly with specialist training. Even in personnel were available, it would be impossible and economically unjustifiable to disperse them over the whole area. On the other hand, it is of course desirable to provide these parts of the country with a level of medical care which is comparable to that in urban areas without excessively increasing the cost for these services. Electropysiological signals such as electrocardiographs (ECG's) are becoming increasingly important to the diagnosis and treatment of various ailments. The present procedure used to handle the interpretation of the tracings of these signals is to mail them to well-staffed hospitals for manual interpretation by specially trained physicians. This is not very effective in helping to raise the quality of rural medical care to that obtainable in urban areas. The system described in this thesis shows how it is possible to adapt recent technological advances, specifically in the fields communications and integrated circuit electronics to attain this goal. Description of the design and construction of the receiving terminal used for data collection at a central location is the main content of this thesis. The ECG's are converted to digital form and then stored on a digital cassette tape deck at the remote transmitting terminal which is assumed to be located in a sparsely populated rural area. At some future time, convenient to both the remote and central terminal, the ECG's which have been stored on cassette are transmitted to the data collection terminal where they are converted to analog form for manual diagnosis and at the same time recorded on a computer compatible tape deck for computer processing. Tests were carried out on the complete system over a local telephone circuit through several levels of step-by-step switching. The results show that the use of these modern techniques to aid in the treatment and diagnosis of ECG's is technically feasible and economically acceptable. It is believed that the system will contribute to the equalization of the quality of medical care between rural and urban communities.