Developments in computing, information technology, and telecommunications infrastructure are stimulating an interactive information system based on a three-dimensional (3D) model of a real hospital. A virtual hospital (VH) is based on the telemedicine platform, but unlike telemedicine it deploys virtual environments and could be based on a contact patient-computer - the virtual doctor concept - instead of the conventional medical-medical or patient-medical services. The patient is allowed to experience a near realistic impression of the actual health care process by being able to see and interact with the doctors, nurses, administration personnel, and also other patients in the VH.
A VH constitutes an original partnership between health care professionals and industries for the delivery of telemedical services for global health care. "Concurrent and co-ordinated access from local as well as remote areas realizing collaborative access of patient data, collaborative manipulation, and collaborative control can enable the VH to achieve a global approach to health care services", noted the analyst of this research service. Some of the technologies that would encompass a VH platform include satellite link, terrestrial links, Grid technologies, electronic health record (EHR), data-mining, and decision support.
The idea edging forward a VH is a virtual combination of applications such as telemedicine, telecare, telehealth, on-line health, and e-health to enable and accelerate the interoperability and interconnection of services developed by different organisations at different locations through real integration. Falling equipment costs, increased power on the desktop, and ease-of-use are important factors in building the concept of a VH.
"However, people are cautious about investing and are demanding data that would substantiate the use of this technology", observed the analyst. "Paradoxically, the lack of credible evidence to support the use of technology is deterring funding for research to build the evidence base."
Apart from the inadequate supportive data, the uncertain cost benefits are discouraging commercial companies from entering this field. The uncertainty is likely to remain as a major restraint, until studies are carried out to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of such a set-up.
More information on this report is available at the Research and Markets web site.