Since several years, telematics form a vital matter of interest at the University Hospital of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. To enable colleagues to perform their daily comparative control sessions, radiotherapists of the Dijkzigt and the Daniel den Hoed clinical centres will be using telematics facilities through a broadband connection for mono-disciplinary consults on radiotherapeutic patient treatment plans. Via a broadband Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) IP-connection, the Dijkzigt site is receiving magnetic resonance (MR) and X-ray images, computed tomography (CT) scans, and radiation plans from the Daniel den Hoed site, located on the south bank of the Meuse. This connection is saving the Dijkzigt radiotherapists from losing valuable travelling and queuing time on busy roads.
Medical images are being exchanged to discuss the radiation effects on the patients. The facilities not only permit the use of videoconferencing but also allow simultaneous use at both locations of an existing application to view and manipulate high-resolution images of digitised X-ray. The physicians perform tele-consults on so-called stereotactic X-raying, in which tumours are accurately being localised in advance and visualised in 3D images. The effect of the high radiation doses can be viewed on the scans and has to be quickly evaluated. Usually, it are brain tumours which are being visualised. In the past, this type of tumour could only be treated with great difficulty.
All these medical actions take place in one integrated environment at the local workstation. It is also possible to add other applications, whenever the need occurs, such as for tele-learning for instance. Providing connections to multiple locations is equally simple, as well as the choice for a high speed or a less faster connection, for example with a doctor at a workstation outside the hospital, who does not dispose of a broadband connection. The 90.000 euro grant, offered by the Development Society Rotterdam, has been used for satellite disks among other equipment. At present, the communication link can be maintained with an annual cost of about 900 euro, according to Dr. Peter Nowak, a physicist and radiotherapist at Dijkzigt.
The GigaCoMed project is delivering the first broadband network within the Dutch health care sector. Among the industrial and commercial participants are Lucent, Siemens, and Applicare, which recently became a division of GE Medical. In the long run, Dijkzigt aims to transfer all its clinical departments to the broadband network. The idea would be to take part in the nationwide Gigaport broadband network. Gigaport constitutes an initiative supported by several ministries, and is co-ordinated by the Dutch Telematics Institute. More information on the Gigaport initiative is available in the December 1999 VMW article Dutch IBM division opens Advanced Internet Application Center for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.