'Online hospital' in Chinese drug rehab center

Updated: Jun 27, 2018 Xinhua Print
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Huang Ailan (pseudonym), a 50-year-old drug user, had not known about her hypertension until receiving a health check-up last year before entering a rehabilitation center in south China's Guangdong province.

Now, she has blood pressure tests three times a day. "The tests help me know about my condition. So I don't worry much," Huang said.

Every morning, afternoon and night, nearly 200 inmates, including Huang, in Guangdong's women's compulsory drug rehabilitation center receive tests for blood pressure and oxygen saturation, and have electrocardiograms.

Abnormal results will be immediately shown on monitoring screens in offices of the hospital affiliated to the center and two local hospitals. Alerts will be issued to the doctors' mobile phones.

It is part of an online system to monitor inmate health, which started operation ahead of last year's International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on June 26.

The center receives 2,000 to 2,500 drug users every year. Through physical examinations, 5 percent to 10 percent are diagnosed with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases that would complicate rehabilitation efforts, said Zeng Weifeng, deputy head of the hospital affiliated to the center.

"We have so many patients and not enough medical staff. Therefore, we hope Internet technology can help us improve treatment and better cope with emergencies," Zeng said, adding that the monitoring system handles 20,000 pieces of data every month.

Moreover, the center allows online medical consultation, with more than 100 such consultations made based on health data collected by the monitoring system.

The system has proved effective in saving lives.

In late 2017, a doctor in the emergency room in a local hospital and another doctor with the hospital affiliated to the rehab center simultaneously received a highest-level alert on the critical condition of an inmate who suffered a severe stroke and hypertension.

Thanks to the alert, the emergency room physician was fully prepared to rescue the patient before she arrived.

A similar "online hospital" was set up in a compulsory drug rehabilitation center in central China's Hunan Province.

Conditions at detoxification centers across China have been improving. For example, in Shanghai, virtual reality technology has been applied in drug rehabilitation.

At Shanghai Qingdong rehabilitation center, patients wear a VR helmet with an eye-movement tracking system. Their biological indicators, including eye movement, heart rate and skin conductivity, are recorded to determine their level of addiction.

The virtual reality system offers the patients various scenarios, such as parties in a bar or gatherings in a hotel room, in which men and women take drugs around the user. These videos are played to stimulate addicts' desire for drugs. Then they view videos showing how the drugs will harm their health, so as to suppress their desire.

In addition, sports, arts and other forms of education have been widely introduced to help drug addicts across the country.

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