Four-state hospital consortium to build virtual private network for remote collaboration

Pittsburgh 26 April 2000The 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.

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"Information technology forms an untapped resource in the effort to improve the delivery of high quality as well as affordable health care for Americans", stated Congressman Curt Weldon. "This project places our region on the cutting edge, and everyone in the region will benefit from the improved access to health care that this initiative will bring."

Curt Weldon has stimulated the development of a four-state "smart region" consortium called HUBS, standing for Hospitals, Universities, Businesses and Schools. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in April awarded $7 million to HUBS to develop and demonstrate a range of innovative Internet technologies. With a subcontract of $1.3 million, PSC will work on several overlapping projects aimed at creating enabling technologies for secure, reliable and fast "telemedicine".

PSC's superb resources, including hundreds of terabytes of data-storage and high performance network connectivity, are a keystone of the novel HUBS initiative. "This project exemplifies our ability to harness the two basic digital technologies, which are advanced communications and data storage and retrieval", noted PSC scientific directors Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies. "Our staff scientists and engineers contribute an unparalleled expertise to the application of these resources. This project will improve the quality of life in the four-state region and also set the pace for similar efforts across the nation."

Overall project management is provided by SAIC, the Science Applications International Corporation, through their Valley Forge, Pennsylvania facilities. Other partners along with PSC and UPMC are Telcordia Technologies, which formerly was called Bellcore, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In collaboration with Telcordia, PSC networking staff will work to develop an innovative, high performance implementation of a networking technology known as a "virtual private network". The objective will be to assure integrity and security of patient data transmission at high levels of network performance. Another effort, in collaboration with UPMC and Johns Hopkins, focuses on creating network software to facilitate archival and retrieval of X-rays, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and other image data.

A third PSC project, in collaboration with UPMC, will develop an integrated approach among all four hospitals for pathology-image data collection and data-base searching for automated diagnosis of tissue samples. An UPMC-PSC team is a recognised leader in this area.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with the Westinghouse Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry.


Leslie Versweyveld

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