April 1999

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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The secret behind surgery simulation and VR treatment planning

Check out the latest developments for the operating theatre of the 21st century:


Special issue with an update on results from European R&D projects, 1998

Each year hundreds of European R&D projects produce important results. In this special issue, co-published by the magazines Primeur and VMW, we give an update from a number of projects in the HPCN and medical sectors that were supported within the Esprit or Telematics programmes from the European Commission.

Please, check in at the telemedicine projects below:

This special issue is published in conjunction with the large IST 1998 event (the former Esprit/Telematics conference) in Vienna.

Next issues are planned in April during ITIS-ITAB'99 (at HPCN Europe) in Amsterdam and in November during IST 1999 in Helsinki.
When you want your project results in one of those issues, please contact the editors of Primeur magazine or Virtual Medical Worlds magazine.

ITIS99logof Visit the website of the second International Conference on the Telemedical Information Society.
Combined ITIS'99-ITAB'99 Conference, April 12-13 1999, Amsterdam.
The programme is now available!

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Aspects of assessment, education, security and practice in telemedicine at ITIS-ITAB'99
Barely will the Easter chimes have faded out before the starting signal of the ITIS-ITAB'99 telemedicine conference will be given on April 12th at the RAI Centre in Amsterdam. Twenty-three paper presentations and two forum sessions will highlight every crucial angle in the 21st century realm of the International Telemedical Information Society. This wealthy offer of lively interaction and cutting-edge information should raise the utmost attention of all last minute subscribers to conference registration. If you hurry, you can still join this provocative and stimulating event and participate in the creative brainstorming on telemedicine as a valuable and viable approach to future health care.

Bird's-eye view on telemedicine as a dynamic process in present-day health care
Last December, the Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine announced the publication of European Telemedicine 1998/99 . This reference study on the present state within Europe of the medical art as practised at a distance, is now available. The book has been conceived as a guided tour which in six parts highlights the different aspects, involved with telemedicine. Notwithstanding the great potential the innovative approach of telecare has in store, there still exists an embarrassing lack of evidence for its actual cost-effectiveness. Professor Richard Wootton, consultant editor of the study, therefore makes an ardent plea to emphasize the need for proper research and more important still, for proper research funding.

Telemedicine Body of Knowledge provides students with basic key for safe practice
In the series dedicated to Studies in Health Technology and Informatics , published by IOS Press in Amsterdam, recently became available the Handbook of Telemedicine . Born out of the three-year pilot project of the CATAI/Telemed consortium, funded by the European Leonardo da Vinci Programme, the volume is conceived as an introduction to the basic concepts of telemedicine, intended for students in the Faculties of Medicine, Computer Science, Telecommunications, Biomedical Engineering and Nautical Science. In twelve chapters and thirteen annexes, the guide to telemedicine offers a standardized Body of Knowledge to guarantee the safe performance of all types of telemedical treatment. Even for people belonging to the category of the interested outsider, this publication forms the perfect start for a deeper understanding of a new approach to health care.

Focus on European health care policy at the turn of the millennium
Last year, the European Health Forum Gastein was organized in Austria from September 30th till October 2nd in order to put a spotlight on the essential requirements to create a better future for health systems in Europe. Politicians, health administrators, medical professionals, as well as representatives from both health and patient organizations and the industry discussed the directions which need to be taken on the threshold of the next millennium. The Congress report of this major event has just now become available. The document reflects the conference participants' considerations on the fundamental topics that have to be coped with to keep the European health care sector viable in the next century.

Virtual Radiology Explorer uses supercomputing power to enable medical visualization
Modern medical visualization makes more and more use of image sources like computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With these sources 3D data sets can be produced that enhance the ability of specialists to analyze the condition of their patients. Despite the increased possibilities of acquiring data, clinical use of powerful tools to analyze the data, such as 3D rendering for example, is limited due to insufficient computing capacity being available on site. The "Virtual Radiology Explorer" project that is currently being set up at Academic Computing Services Amsterdam (SARA), aims to make available computing power on supercomputers for medical visualization purposes. End users will be able to access these resources from their PC desktop via high speed networks.

New pan-European research network officially launched
Mrs. Edelgard Bulmahn, who is the German Federal Minister for Research and Education, has been given the honour to officially launch the new pan-European research network TEN-155. The ceremony took place in Essen, Germany, at the start conference of the Fifth Framework Programme, recently approved by the Council of Ministers of the European Union.


Hospital IT managers dread system chaos with introduction of embedded NT
Microsoft is planning to ship Windows NT Embedded 4.0 by the end of the year. The prospect of having NT embedded into non PC devices has raised quite a bit of uneasiness among the British IT managers of the National Health Service (NHS), because these experts seriously worry that such a delicate type of software integration could cause tremendous chaos on existing hospital networks.

London Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth to replace Unix by Windows platform
In order to bring back the clinical information system's downtime to an acceptable level, the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in London has amputated its ten year old Unix server environment. The system has been replaced by a PC based network running on a Windows NT platform. This radical decision has been quickened by the necessity to change legacy non compliant hardware and software.

EPIX Medical's new multimedia Web site features AngioMARK images in 3D
EPIX Medical Inc. has launched a new corporate Web site on the Internet. This home page uses interactive multimedia technology to show several cutting-edge visualization techniques designed to expand the clinical utility of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). As its centrepiece, the Web site features a Virtual Workstation with images from two Phase II clinical studies of AngioMARK (MS-325), EPIX's lead intravascular MR contrast agent, which is currently under development. The visitor can participate in a 360 degrees interactive visualization of MR scans.

Live webcast of total knee replacement surgery to educate potential patients
On February 23rd 1999, America's Health Network organized a live webcast of a total knee replacement surgery on both knees of a 61-year-old woman whose love of ballroom dancing since years has been devastated by arthritis. On this occasion, the recently launched Internet consumer health site AHN decided to partner with the US national home office of the Arthritis Foundation, in order to provide useful information to the public on hip and knee surgery treatment for arthritis sufferers.

Data Critical and Mallinckrodt to partner for delivery of wireless telemedicine networks to hospitals
Data Critical Corporation, a Wireless Telemedicine hardware and software company, has recently signed a five-year agreement with the Nellcor Oximetry Business of Mallinckrodt Inc., a major provider of pulse oximetry monitoring devices. Under the terms of this contract, Data Critical is going to develop a suite of innovative wireless products for Mallinckrodt to distribute to health care facilities all over the world.

Live surgery performance between Washington and Ohio promotes new and super-fast Internet link
Washington's Union Station rail terminal was the place to be for over three hundred invited people last February, to witness live surgery on a patient, some 300 miles away in an operating room at the State University's hospital in Ohio. Dr. Jerry Johnson remotely participated in the surgeons' performance during a dramatic demonstration of the future evolution of the Internet. The "tele-guided operation" was executed over the $500 million Abilene Network. This new ultra-fast data pipeline is able to operate at speeds that are 45.000 times faster than the best telephone modems used nowadays to surf the World Wide Web.


Dutch pathologists soon to use Voice XPress integrated speechware for digital report dictating
G2 Speech, a fast growing Dutch developer of speech recognition solutions for the medical profession and the lawyer's practice, has signed a partnering agreement with Lernout & Hauspie, the Flemish world leader in speech technology. L&H's Voice XPress software will be integrated into the various health care and legal applications, designed by G2 Speech, in order to create integrated and advanced speechware tools for any given platform. The first programme to be realized will constitute a professional software for pathological applications. Packages for other medical specialities are already being planned since the Dutch health care sector is crying out for this user-friendly type of digital speech implementation.

Supercomputer modelling techniques to optimize SJM Regent heart valve design
St. Jude Medical Company, a manufacturer of medical devices for the global cardiovascular market, has received the "Conformité Européenne" (CE) Mark approval for the design of the new SJM Regent mechanical heart valve. For the first time, advanced supercomputer modelling tools have been applied in the development process to enhance the quality of the mechanical valve product line. The CE Mark approval offers the best imaginable promotion to allow the sales of this latest edition within St. Jude Medical's family of "gold standard" mechanical heart valves across the European Union.

E-MedSoft.com to provide subscription-based and Web-enabled health care management using Java tools
At the HIMSS'99, this year's exposition of the Health Information Management Systems Society, Sun Microsystems, Sanga International, and MedTech introduced e-MedSoft.com, an innovative health care management and billing software tool, designed with Sun's popular Java technology. The three companies also plan to initiate collaborative marketing efforts for this promising health care product. The e-MedSoft.com software constitutes the first subscription-based health care management system which is available for delivery across the Internet.

Genset to perform and store genetic mapping on Sun's Starfire server and StorEdge storage system
Genset lately has been in search of sufficient computing power to offer improved performance and reliability for its large-scale genomics data creation and analysis. The global genomics company decided to select Sun's Enterprise 10000 server, better known as the Starfire server, in combination with the Solaris Operating Environment software, Java technology, and the StorEdge A5000 storage system. The Starfire which constitutes a first-class datacentre-class server, already has crossed the threshold of 1000 systems shipped by now.

Cardiology applications demonstrated over Fore's High-Performance ATM-based network
At this year's Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology (ACC'99), Fore Systems, a major supplier of advanced networking solutions, was invited to demonstrate an impressive series of leading-edge health care applications over a high-performance network. For the fourth time in row, the Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) specialist was offered the opportunity to deliver the core of the high-speed ACC communications network. In this way, over 400 exhibitors were able to showcase the newest applications in cardiovascular medicine to over 30.000 attendees from 7 to 10 March 1999.

Tandberg to present fully-featured group system videoconferencing solution for multiple applications
As a global leader in videoconferencing systems, Tandberg recently announced its latest design in the Vision product family. The Vision 2500 is a richly featured rollabout, which is being issued at an aggressive price. The fully configured system delivers all the features that are required for a total videoconferencing solution. Offering excellent video and audio quality, the Vision 2500 constitutes an ideal communication tool for mid to large meeting rooms and is well suited for a wide range of organizations and applications.


Virtual Reality showcased as a multi-functional tool in medicine
From January 20th till 23rd, the city of San Francisco hosted the seventh edition of the annual "Medicine Meets Virtual Reality" event. The conference proceedings are currently available and offer a vivid impression of today's Virtual Reality technology implementation for medical applications in and outside the operating theatre, and for medical training and education. Freshly appeared as the 62nd volume in the series dedicated to Studies in Health Technology and Informatics , published by IOS Press in Amsterdam, the book contains seventy-three presentations, introduced by a selection of international participants to this year's MMVR 7 platform.

Kentucky school telehealth care project centred around ViaTV Videophone service
Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Telecare Network at the University of Kentucky, and the 8x8 company, a manufacturer and provider of videoconferencing systems, are involved in a telemedicine programme for local schools in rural Kentucky. The 8x8 ViaTV Videophone units will form the key component in a new telehealth care project to offer remote support to sick children in three elementary schools, situated in medically under-served areas.

Abilene fibre optic backbone for the Internet2 officially switched on
The first phase of the "Next Generation Internet" (NGI) has been put into operation by turning on the Abilene fibre optic backbone. At present, the network connects 37 universities as well as IBM, which is the first corporate partner to be linked to Internet2. The NGI initiative is being co-ordinated by a non-profit consortium of universities and corporations, the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID). Indiana University will host the control centre for the Abilene Network, which initially will serve as a test bed for innovative Internet applications, such as distance learning, telemedicine and digital libraries.

Medical patient records unintentionally released for anyone to see on the Internet
Merely by chance, an unsuspecting student at the University of Michigan discovered that thousands of patient records at the University's Medical Center had been left exposed to the public on the Internet. How such a breach could occur can be explained by the fact that computer staff at the Medical Center was trying to solve the bugs in a software programme installed by HBOC, a hospital information systems' provider headquartered in Minneapolis. In order to offer the HBOC experts access to the medical patient records, the University people decided to put the data on a special server which everybody presumed to be protected with special passwords.

Timely Telestroke intervention might save many stroke victims' lives in rural areas
Interactive, two-way audio and video communication in real time emerges as a new method for the fast evaluation of stroke patients in small community hospitals in order to determine the best possible therapy. At the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan, Professor Steven R. Levine is involved in the Telestroke concept, a programme that studies the use of videoconferencing to interconnect stroke specialists and physicians at remote emergency units. At the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. Marian P. LaMonte, an assistant professor of neurology, has already set up a telemedicine system to offer aid to stroke victims in the rural region of Southern Maryland.

Recently patented Biology Workbench reveals itself as excellent informatics management tool
In medicine as well as in biology, there exists an urgent need for global communication of information. The efficient exchange of data might reduce the time-consuming administrative burden, faced by physicians, and facilitate the computations for gene sequencing for biology researchers. The Web-based Biology Workbench enables scientists and medical professionals to spend more time on respective research and patient care. This powerful management tool has been developed by the team of Shankar Subramaniam, a senior researcher from the National Computational Science Alliance (NCSA) at the University of Illinois.


Eli Lilly and Company's new Web site to provide useful information on diabetes management
Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical corporation based in Indiana, has set up a new Web site intended for health care professionals as well as consumers. The innovative diabetes home page presents itself as a wealthy source of information on diabetes management in general and the use of a practical new insulin delivery device in particular.

Protein Data Bank Web site opened, RCSB distributor of new entries
The Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics (RCSB) has opened both the new Protein Data Bank (PDB) Web site and ftp archive. On February 3rd 1999, the RCSB organization accordingly has assumed the primary responsibility for distributing new entries to the PDB. Following the first five successful updates, the PDB now contains 9419 coordinate entries for proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates.

Data mining as a useful tool to optimize the hospital occupation level
On May 24th 1999, the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre will organize a seminar at Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, on the subject of data mining or how to extract value from clinical data. The seminar will bring together representatives from the National Health Service (NHS) as well as computing experts in order to offer an insight into the potential of clinical data.

Silicon Graphics to release free bioinformatics software optimized for Origin servers
Silicon Graphics, Inc. has released two innovative bioinformatics software programmes. Both Parallel CLUSTAL W and High-Throughput (HT) BLAST are intended for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and can be accessed via the World Wide Web.

US Veterans Affairs Agency to fund series of innovative telemedicine projects
The United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) has decided to fund an extensive number of leading-edge projects that will use telemedicine to enhance the home care of paralyzed veterans. The VA's new Telemedicine in Home Care initiative will be applied in fifteen centres specialized in spinal cord injury and dysfunction (SCI/D), which are located in the VA health care facilities of eleven different states. The ambitious programme, for which a budget of over $500.000 has been earmarked, will serve veterans across the entire nation.

Medivision and Interamerican College for Physicians & Surgeons to develop HealthLink Network for the Americas
The Interamerican College of Physicians and Surgeons (ICPS) and Medivision, a provider of satellite, videotape and Internet-delivered health care education, have signed an agreement to jointly develop the HealthLink Network for the Americas. This innovative network will supply continuing education programmes in Spanish for health care professionals in the United States and Latin America.