"Each project started with a mature technology and aimed for a usable product by the end", stated Ignacio Blanquer. He heads the project's dissemination activities and is part of the team based at Spain's Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, one of the four principal contractors. Each technology was tested by clinics and hospitals, over a period of 12 to 18 months.
A number of these technology prototypes have made the medical headlines. They include the world's first-ever implementation of a European standard, soon to be an ISO standard, for interconnection of devices in an intensive care unit. The IONIC project tackled the common problem of device incompatibility by building a universal connector. A mainly software solution, it allows monitors, ventilators and other life-saving equipment from different vendors to work together.
Not every hospital radiology department exclusively uses DICOM-format digital medical images. Many also use films, which are harder to transfer to electronic devices. "One solution is the low-cost cardiac-imaging system developed under the CREAM project", stated Ignacio Blanquer. Acting as a bridge between the analogue and digital worlds, it digitises, encodes and stores x-ray angiography and echocardiography movies, before compressing them into a variety of useful image formats.
Available as a standalone device or on a plug-in board for personal computers, the system now has approval from the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a crucial step for world acceptance. "CREAM is a good example", underlined Ignacio Blanquer, "of Eutist-M's ability to transfer research technology to the market."
The automated cytological screening system from the project AUTOSCREEN reduces the inherent detection risks of manual screening. Another medical first, the system enables end-users to concentrate on serious cases of cervical cancer. Clinics in Spain and elsewhere have shown interest in using it.
Making waves in orthopaedics is a new system for assessing the stability of hip prostheses during implantation. ISAC is a low-cost portable instrument, shaped like a hammer, to verify this stability. By offering a quantitative evaluation of the procedure, ISAC will reduce the risks of failure. It will also give a general competitive advantage to the tool's European manufacturers.
The Eutist-M consortium includes 42 partners from seven countries. "Unlike other European umbrella projects, we all come under the same contract", explained Ignacio Blanquer. This horizontal action helps co-ordination and dissemination activities, increasing the likelihood of technology take-up.
At a recent trade fair in Germany, for example, Eutist-M's eleven projects were all presented on one stand. Individually, a European medical IT project would struggle to pay for this. Eutist-M projects also benefit from the synergy of a single Eutist-M Web site and grouping in presentation publications. More information is available at the IST Results on-line news service.