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Software development and evaluation for remote control and audio-video communication for a narcotic dependency rehabilitation tablet dispenser based on LAN


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Bajracharya, Aman 2010 , 'Software development and evaluation for remote control and audio-video communication for a narcotic dependency rehabilitation tablet dispenser based on LAN', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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There are often serious problems with misuse and diversion of narcotic rehabilitation
medication when supplied to patients as Take Away Doses (TADs) rather than as a daily
dose given under supervision at a pharmacy. Despite this, TADs are often supplied in
narcotic rehabilitation programs to help patients live normal lives, promote rehabilitation,
improve retention in treatment, reduce congregation at dispensing points and improve
access to treatment. Problems arise because TADs are taken unsupervised with no
monitoring to ensure that they are taken as prescribed. There is also no "intoxication"
assessment of the patients immediately prior to dosing to ensure it is safe for the patient
to consume a TAD. There is also no suitable technology currently available to remedy
this situation. The University of Tasmania Medical Engineering Research Group is
working to develop suitable technology for secure remote storage and delivery of TADs
together with remote assessment of patients immediately prior to TAD delivery. The use
of this system has been named tele-drug-rehabilitation. This thesis is concerned with the
communication and remote dispensing of tablets required for this technology. A new
word 'tele-dosing' has been coined for this part.
The tele-drug-rehabilitation system featured video and audio communication between a
local (clinician) and remote (patient) PC and the remote control of a tablet dispenser in
the remote location. LabV1EW graphical programming was used to develop the
communication software, the user interface and the external dispenser control. A laptop
was used at the patient site and a desktop at clinician's site both running on Windows XP.
A webcam and 3.5mm microphone and headset were used in each side. MJPEG and way
format were used for video and audio respectively. The patient's computer and the
clinician's computer were connected through a Local Area Network (LAN). The
dispenser was connected to the patient's computer through a serial port. For remote
dispensing, the software provides a mechanism to remotely operate the medication
dispenser. The tablet dispenser was designed to hold up to five tablets of buprenorphine.
Through the system, the clinician interacts with the patient through video and audio and
provides supervisory control of the dispenser. This enables assessment of the patient prior
to dispensing, activation of the dispenser only after a satisfactory assessment outcome, and monitoring of the dosing process. The concepts and the programs used in developing
the system are described.
The system was initially trialed with ten dummy patients using plastic tablets. User
feedback was used for continuous improvement of the software and the hardware.
Finally, the system was trialed and evaluated with two real patients in a controlled
environment. Buprenorphine tablets were used in the trials. The trials were successful.
Each patient as well as the doctor, was given a set of questionnaires to fill out after the
experiment. The questions included the quality of video, audio and audio-video
combined, the perception of safety, successful dispensing, comparison of the remote
monitoring compared to going to the pharmacist, the cost patients are willing to pay for
the system and others.
Trials with dummy patients found the compression level and resolution of image frames
suitable for the system. MJPEG based video communication was found to be suitable
enough for video communication. The user experience of audio communication was also
positive. The dispensing of Buprenorphine tablets to real patients was successful and in
the correct order in all trials with real patients. Feedback from the real patients was
positive indicating the system was usable and functional and they would prefer home
dosing with this system in preference to daily pharmacy visits.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Bajracharya, Aman
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2010 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (MScEng)--University of Tasmania, 2011. Includes bibliographical references

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