June 2000

VMW is a monthly Virtual Magazine on Telemedicine and High Performance Computing and Networking for readers interested in computer applications in medical environments. It is produced by an editorial team composed of professionals in publishing and an advisory board with professionals in telemedicine, provides the embedding into the everyday practice and research. You can put the editorial team to work as well. Read about our services and find out about the friendly rates.

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Future perspectives of e-health and telemedicine

Curious about the commercial and technological evolution of Internet health care and remote medical applications? Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine presents a cross-section of ten viewpoints from different expert consultants in the health care business with regard to the development of medical information technology beyond 2000.


PrimeurLive! from the Mannheim Supercomputer Seminar, June 2000

The Mannheim Supercomputer Seminar is the main HPCN event in Europe.
This year we publish two live issues from the event:

Contents of PrimeurLive!:

ITIS99logof Visit the Web site of the second International Conference on the Telemedical Information Society.
Combined ITIS'99-ITAB'99 Conference, April 12-13 1999, Amsterdam.
Also featuring all forum discussions!

Scroll down - or select a section:


Biomed Flanders to act as catalysing force for biomedical innovation in medical education and industry
Some ten years ago, Biomed Flanders started out as a multi-disciplinary forum of paramedics, biophysicists, bioengineers, academics, industrial managers, researchers and scientists to catalyse innovations in biomedicine. Today, this platform has grown into a dynamic organisation, which is actively involved in setting up scientific symposia, co-ordinating educational projects to the benefit of students in bioengineering departments at the various Flemish University Colleges, supporting the implementation of new technologies in hospitals, and participating in conferences to promote groundbreaking engineering applications in medicine.

Ghent builds XML-driven demonstrator for remote multimedia data access in teleradiology and PACS
Within the framework of the Euromedia 2000 event, a symposium was organised under the title "Building a Global Business". On this occasion, Dr. Rik Van de Walle from the Department of Electronics and Information Systems (ELIS) at the University of Ghent in Belgium, held a talk on ways to access remote multimedia information by means of XML, known as eXtensible Markup Language. The ELIS research team has developed a generic software framework based on XML for the Internet-enabled access of multimedia data, which could be applied in the field of teleradiology and in the establishing of Picture Archival and Communication Systems (PACS).

European Commission to appoint biotechnology high level group as expert advisers
The European Commissioner for Research, Mr. Philippe Busquin, has appointed a panel of eminent life scientists to act as advisers to the European Commission. The Commissioner announced his decision to set up the high level group on biosciences at the presentation of the preliminary results of a 1999 Eurobarometer survey on European citizens' attitudes to biotechnology.

European Commission to present results of four biomaterials research projects
The Research Directorate-General from the European Commission made public that European scientists are celebrating recent successes in research on how "biomaterials" can be used to help the human body repair itself. Some researchers have even found the key to growing a second skin. In past years, surgeons have been using materials borrowed from aeronautics, electronics and engineering to bolster damaged bodies for some time, in hip replacements or artificial limbs for example. But, more recently, scientists have begun looking for more "natural", biodegradable materials which might act as scaffolds to support damaged bodies and encourage tissues to regenerate themselves.

SOS Oncology site gets ready for new tele-teaching projects
At the Euromedia 2000 Conference, Dr. Lorenzo Motta from the Italian National Cancer Institute which is hosted at the University of Genova, presented the SOS Oncology Web site. The SOS "Sustaining Oncology Studies" server has been developed successfully out of the telematics service, generated as SOS Europe in 1994, to support the European cancer research community. Today, the SOS server's major objective is to function as a central point of contact in the tumour-related medical area for doctors, clinicians, researchers, PhD students, nurses and technicians. To this aim, a new project on tele-teaching will be set up which will be based on ADSL or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line technology.


Semantic Web opportunities for the Electronic Patient Record and medical image handling
The "Building a Global Business" symposium at the Euromedia 2000 event included a talk on second generation Web technology for information integration and remote communication within hospital and clinical environments. Dr. Erwin Bellon studied civil and biology engineering and currently is an assistant professor in the Medical Imaging Computing Division of the University Hospital's Department of Radiology, based at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium. This speaker discussed the intelligent capacities of the freshly emerging "Semantic Web" to enhance the integration and accessibility of the Electronic Patient Record, as well as this new Web's application potential for medical image processing.

Northeast region and larger hospitals principal victims of dropping operating margins in U.S.
HBS International Inc. (HBSI), provider of outcomes-management systems to the health care industry, has found that the hospital operating margins dropped by 47 percent in the last three years, from 6.1 percent in 1997 to 3.2 percent in 1999. This information has been released in The Health of Our Nation's Hospitals: A Report on Operating Margins , a bi-annual report which tracks hospital operating margin trends.

Boston hospitals collaborate with American Life and WorldCare in electronic second opinion network
The telemedicine movement has taken a giant leap forward since a Cambridge company and several Boston hospitals have closed an agreement to provide second opinions for what is one of the world's largest insurers, via the reviewing of patient records on the Internet. WorldCare Inc. of Cambridge signed the contract with the American Life Insurance Corporation, which will allow American Life's customers, for a fee, to seek electronic second opinions from specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and three other hospitals in the United States.

Four-state hospital consortium to build virtual private network for remote collaboration
The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) has joined with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and three other hospitals in a four-state region, which comprises Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, to design technologies for networking and archiving of medical image data. The effort is a pilot project to create technological infrastructure for real time consultation on patient diagnosis and care among specialists at diverse locations, and to promote regional collaborative research and health monitoring.

Technology to dominate cardio-thoracic conference with lifesaving studies on heart and lung procedures
Some 2500 of the world's elite cardio-thoracic surgeons have met at the 80th annual meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) to learn and review the latest scientific breakthroughs in heart and lung surgery and disease. Three particular studies at this meeting illustrated how technology improves patient care and the thoracic profession. The first was about early lung cancer detection via CT scan or chest X-ray; the second related to computer enhanced "robotic" cardiac surgery; and the third investigated whether early discharge following coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery leads to cost savings or rather to a shift in costs.


L&H's European Technology Days to highlight Natural Language Understanding in health care
The future of speech and language technology and the role it will play in an increasing number of industries, applications and devices served as the backdrop for panel discussions, presentations, announcements, and product demonstrations at Lernout & Hauspie's (L&H) first annual European Technology Days. Industry luminaries, L&H executives and customers all discussed how speech and language solutions are increasingly being used to provide a natural user interface to devices to simplify tasks, and break down communications barriers for consumers and businesses worldwide. Discussions called special attention to the role of speech and language in call centres and telephony; automotive; handheld, wireless and mobile consumer devices; computing and the Internet, health care, and translation and globalisation markets.

The Internet is nothing compared to the revolution of the deep future sciences
The Euromedia audience was shaken up by the prophetic vision of Dr. Andrey J. Zarur, head of the Biogenetics Department at Starlab Research Laboratories in Brussels, where the latest technologies are being developed. Previously involved with drug delivery at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and research on fuel cells at Los Alamos, this speaker is familiar with the so-called deep future sciences of biotechnology, genetics, materials sciences, nanotechnology, and quantum computation. Dr. Zarur pictured a future where tremendous revolutions will start taking place and opportunity awaits us. "At Starlab, we never make anything that works, we do not sell anything, and one hundred years means nothing to us..." In this way the start sounded to one of the most amazing talks of the "Global Business" symposium.

Virtual swimming pool possibly might ease down fear of acrophobia patients
The Euromedia 2000 conference included a session on virtual environments. In this section, Drs. Martijn Schuemie from the Technical University of Delft in The Netherlands, represented his colleagues Drost, Bruynzeel, Brinckman, and de Haan in a presentation on the treatment of acrophobia in Virtual Reality. Under the supervision of the two promoters Dr. Emmelkamp and Dr. van der Mast, the five students performed a pilot study to measure the effectiveness of treating fear of heights by exposing test patients to fear stimuli in a virtual world.

Surgery simulator to integrate "Haptic Master" feedback interface for CAVE testing
Since early 1997, a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) has been installed at the Academic Computing Services Amsterdam (SARA). Fokker Control Systems has now developed a haptic feedback interface to be implemented in the CAVE at SARA. The device is integrated into the CAVE for a project which has been launched in collaboration with the University of Groningen to build a surgery simulator. This simulator will be designed very specifically for the intubation of patients to control the breathing function during the period of anaesthesia in surgical interventions.

European Commission to launch new proposal for disease prevention in Europe
A fresh European strategy on public health is now under debate following the European Commission's launch of a new proposal to analyse and combat disease in Europe. At its core is an incentive programme with a proposed budget of 300 million euro over six years. The first step in the strategy aims to put in place a comprehensive data system on the major determinants of health in the European Union, together with methods to evaluate this data. The second seeks to ensure that the Community is in a position to counter threats to health, which cannot be tackled by member states on their own. A third will put in place strategies to identify the most effective policy for combating disease and promoting health.


Association of Telehealth Service Providers releases report chronicling industry growth and telemedicine development
The Association of Telehealth Service Providers (ATSP) has recently issued for the third time in a row its annual telemedicine report. The ATSP's 1999 Report on United States Telemedicine Activity is the result of a fruitful collaboration with the Telemedicine Today Magazine and the Telemedicine Research Center, where the authors are based. These report writers have collected industry- and programme-level data on both telemedicine and telehealth from the clinical providers' perspective. In this third year, 132 telehealth networks have responded, representing over 1500 telemedicine-equipped facilities in forty-eight states, and reporting over no less than 52.000 teleconsultations in 1998. For 1999, the total number of projected consultations is more than 74.000.

US National Foundation for Functional Brain Imaging invests in Linux cluster
The US National Foundation for Functional Brain Imaging (NFFBI) has invested in a 32-processor compute cluster based on the SGI 1400L server running Linux. NFFBI, headquartered in Albuquerque, NM, is a research partnership with Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, University Of Minnesota School Of Medicine and New Mexico science and technical institutions such as the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque VA Medical Center, Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The system installed at NFFBI consists of eight SGI 1400L servers, each equipped with four Intel Pentium III Xeon processors.

E-commerce trends and impact in eye care identified by experts
First Insight Corporation, a leading provider of technology-based solutions for eye care practitioners, recently hosted a panel discussion at the International Vision Expo/East in which industry experts addressed the dramatic changes which e-commerce is bringing to the eye care industry. Panel members, representing a variety of industry perspectives, identified the critical success factors and potential benefits of e-commerce for key industry segments. Moderated by Nitin Rai, the president and CEO of First Insight Corporation, the panel included Mr. Burk Lindsey, a vice president in the health care investment banking group of SunTrust Equitable Securities; Mr. Brad Shapiro, the principal partner of C&E Vision Group; Mr. Dennis Benedict, executive vice president of Benedict Optical Lab; and Dr. Jeffrey Calmere, of Silicon Valley Eyecare.

Physiotherapy patients learn to enjoy boring exercises in virtual game environment
Next month, Electronic Publishing - North America Inc. (EP-NA) will introduce its new Virtual Reality Treatment (ViRT) system. ViRT uses Chromokey technology and Gesture Control software to "put" a patient into a virtual game environment allowing him to have fun exercising. The patient is stimulated to exercise for longer periods and more frequently whereas the system monitors the progress of the patient. This evolutionary physiotherapy treatment method which applies technologies borrowed from the entertainment and broadcast industries, has successfully completed an initial field trial at the Riverside Campus of the Ottawa Hospital.

Kids'HealthLINK launched to support sick children from low-income households on line at home
An idea to provide seriously ill, homebound children from low-income families with a Web based support system, has evolved into an interactive, philanthropic Web site for Kids'HealthLINK, a San Francisco based non-profit organisation and one of the winners of the 1999 Ericsson Internet Community Awards (ERICA). The Kids'HealthLINK Web site was built using Web development services and technology assistance awarded by ERICA, a global social marketing ideas competition sponsored and developed by Ericsson.


In-office conCAVE display system provides immersive viewing to interpret complex graphical data
Fakespace Systems Inc. plans to manufacture and market the conCAVE, a new office-scale collaborative visualisation system that provides depth-enhanced perspectives to improve the interpretation of complex volumetric data. The new system, which is based on technology developed by Phillips Petroleum Company and licensed exclusively to Fakespace Systems, can be installed in a 10-ft. x 12-ft. office and is more affordable than large-scale theatre type displays, bringing the benefits of visualisation to researchers and engineers enterprise-wide.

Lernout & Hauspie to complete acquisition of Dictaphone Corporation
Lernout & Hauspie (L&H) has completed the acquisition of Dictaphone Corporation of Stratford in Connecticut. The Dresdner Bank, Deutsche Bank, Artesia Banking Corporation, KBC Bank, and Fortis Bank have collectively provided financing for this acquisition, which totalled $450 million. L&H expects that the resources acquired from Dictaphone will strengthen its product and management resources and its customer base in the medical records arena and the telecommunications market.

DoubleTwist uses Sun supercomputers to process sequence data from the Human Genome Project
The application service provider DoubleTwist has completed an extensive analysis of the currently available Human Genome Project data, revealing genes and other valuable data. This milestone was accomplished using Sun Enterprise supercomputers, including Starfire servers, and also DoubleTwist's proprietary genomic analysis software and its distributed processing system. DoubleTwist will continue to analyse the Human Genome Project data from its "working draft" to final form, and make this data available to scientists on its genomic research portal DoubleTwist.com.

Integrated DIAMOND and WebMD Practice tools streamline work flow for health benefit plans and physicians
Healtheon/WebMD Corporation, the first end-to-end Internet health care company connecting physicians and consumers to the entire health care industry, and Health Systems Design Corporation (HSD), a leading vendor of information systems solutions for organisations which administer health benefits, have closed a strategic partnership to integrate HSD's DIAMOND software with the WebMD Practice, Healtheon/WebMD's physician portal. By combining both DIAMOND's scalable databases and transaction engine and Healtheon/WebMD's comprehensive doctors portal, the partnership will provide health benefit plans and physicians with a powerful e-business solution, allowing DIAMOND customers to conduct administrative transactions over the Web with their provider communities.

Lippincott and MedCases close deal to jointly develop and market Internet-based medical education products
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a leading medical publishing company, and MedCases, a major Web-based provider of interactive medical education products, have closed an alliance to provide medical professionals, residents and students with a powerful new combination of print and electronic education products. These new products will apply MedCases' problem-based on-line learning method, which uses medical cases where "simulated patients" present specific medical complaints, and the user solves the cases for educational credits.


Cornell Theory Center acquires 128 processor Dell cluster
The Cornell Theory Center (CTC) acquired a new 128-processor, high performance cluster. The new Velocity+ cluster, funded through CTC's Advanced Cluster Computing Consortium (AC3), is the latest Windows 2000-based Dell/Intel/Microsoft cluster to be installed at CTC. Velocity+ will be dedicated to strategic, computationally challenging applications, aimed at solving highly complex problems in fields such as molecular modelling and multiscale materials simulation. One of the strategic applications lined up to run on Velocity+ comes from CTC's Parallel Processing Resource for Biomedical Scientists, which is funded by the National Center for Research Resources.

Distinguished physicians and researchers invited to join new Clinical Advisory Board of TeleMedicineIndex.com
TeleMedicineIndex.com, a site dedicated to providing qualitative and quantitative content about the telemedicine and telehealth industry, has created a Clinical Advisory Board of experts to provide medical insight for the company's Telemedicine Index.

Western Australia selects RSI to install videoconferencing network for telemedicine
RSI Systems Inc. has received an equipment order for what is anticipated to become the world's largest telemedical implementation of videoconferencing. Pahth Telecommunications, the company's distributor in Australia, was recently notified by the Western Australia Health Department that RSI equipment had been selected as a result of a public tender there.

Fakespace Systems to obtain fresh funding and to appoint new board member
Fakespace Systems Inc. has just completed a private funding placement of U.S. $5.7 million with two investors, Electrohome Limited and the Bank of Montreal Capital Corporation (BMOCC). Additionally, Philip Reddon, Managing Director of BMOCC has been named to the Board of Directors of the company.

Ghana and Cuba to work together in new telemedicine network project
The Cuban government will assist Ghana in establishing a medical networking project. The proposed telemedicine network would help medical officers in Ghana to make use of modern telecommunication equipment and software in offering services in diagnosis, therapies and improve the overall health care in the country.