The Polar Code, tele medicine and protection of patient data

Mr Johnny Groneng Aase1

1Institute For Marine And Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Loddefjord, Norway

The Polar Code came into force on Jan 1st, 2017. Chapter 10.2.1 establishes functional requirements for ship communications. Paragraph 4 states that “Appropriate communication equipment to enable telemedical assistance in polar areas shall be provided.”


The Polar Code does not define the terms “telemedical” or “tele medicine”. Being a maritime nation, the Parliament in 2004 established the Norwegian Centre for Maritime Medicine (NCMM) as a national competence centre at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen. When a medical emergency occurs at sea, the vessel can get medical advice from a medical doctor. Medical advice can be provided by any means available, like radio, telephone or electronic mail.


Patient data should be protected. In real life, few means for encryption of patient data are available for commercial and civilian users.


A series of tele medical tests over Iridium NEXT satellites will be carried out in early autumn 2019 in the waters surrounding Svalbard.  We plan to test different means for online encryption of medical data.


In my presentation, I will elaborate on the regulations and laws for protection of patient data in the European Union and other countries. I will also discuss the results from our practical tests in the High Arctic.


Commander Aase is a senior subject matter expert in satellite communications with the Norwegian Cyber Defence Forces. He has a Bachelors Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Narvik University College (2001), a Masters Degree in Electronics and instrumentation from Oslo University and the University Centre in Svalbard (2005). He has worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Space Research at the University of Calgary, developing prototype particle detectors for sounding rockets and satellites. In 2015 he led a series of practical tests of Iridium satellites in the High Arctic. He has been a PhD student with IMAS since 2017.

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