February 1999

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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.

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ITIS-ITAB'99 focuses on global health care delivery in the emerging telemedical information society
Constant renewal preserves the inner dynamic force of all living organisms. ITIS'98, last year's successful International conference of the Telemedical Information Society, has been rebaptized to ITIS-ITAB'99. This joint meeting of the Second International Workshop on the Telemedical Information Society and the Second International Conference on Information Technology Applications in Biomedicine will be held at the RAI Conference Centre in Amsterdam on April 12th-13th 1999. The event is co-sponsored by the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. The organizing committee welcomes all experts, active in the biomedical and telemedical areas but at the same time insists that the meeting is open to students and the general public as well.

Flat digital detector for radiographic imaging minimizes patient's radiation dose
Sooner or later, the filmless hospital will leave the realm of science fiction to enter the everyday world of clinical practice. The medical imaging routine in various X-ray departments is bound to be submitted to advanced digitization technologies. One of the latest developments in this prominent area constitutes a new flatly shaped digital detector which was showcased in world premiere last November to the professional visitors of the MEDICA 98 Fair. The European Union, together with its United States' counterpart, has financially supported the development of the innovative device. As the prime advantage, the detector has the ability to largely reduce the radiation dose to which the patient is exposed during the X-ray procedure.

OmniSwitch installation in forty US military hospitals upgrades telemedicine services
The United States Air Force has provided over forty of its military hospitals all over the country with the new OmniSwitch, delivered by Xylan Corporation, a major campus switching vendor. The upgrades will intensify both the throughput and flexibility of the networks which at the same time have been made year 2000 compliant. The OmniSwitch allows the hospital manager to introduce network segmentation by specific medical application on a personal basis. Services relating to telemedicine and teleradiology will be enhanced via the one-platform-integration of asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) transmission and local area network (LAN) switching.

Hospital Forms/Scripps signs five-year contract with Reynolds for electronic document management delivery
Hospital Forms is dedicated to providing all sorts of forms control services and guidance to hospitals and medical groups. As such, all of the Scripps Memorial Hospitals and clinics in the San Diego region have become major clients to the company. Recently, Hospital Forms closed a $15 million deal with the Reynolds and Reynolds Company to offer the Scripps Memorial Hospital Trust a comprehensive document management solution to optimize the overall productivity and information flow. The innovative and integrated information management system will include tools, such as automated data entry, electronic forms, as well as electronic print and mail services.

PLATO radiation treatment planning system to integrate virtual and conventional simulation
State-of-the-art cancer treatment implies careful planning with use of innovative radiotherapy systems to specify the exact shape and location of the radiation dose in relation to the tumour in order to optimize the clinical effectiveness. Nucletron is a worldwide specialist in treatment planning products with headquarters in The Netherlands and developer of the revolutionary PLATO system. Recently, a new Virtual Simulation System (VSS) module was introduced to the PLATO unit, which also includes the CT Assisted Simulation (CTA Sim) option. CTA Sim allows the full integration of conventional and virtual simulation in order to enhance the accuracy of the treatment planning process.

Minimally invasive techniques gradually gain ground in ear, nose and throat surgery
The early successes of minimally invasive interventions in both Argon-Plasma surgery (APC) and electrosurgery have inspired developers of medical tools to design new instruments for ear, nose and throat surgeons. It seems the multiple advantages of this alternative approach outweigh the results obtained with revolutionary but expensive techniques such as laser therapy. Slow but sure, new ways are paved to unsuspected possibilities and promising perspectives in the ear, nose and throat (ENT) departments of hospitals.

Leading-edge clinical HP equipment turns The Valley Hospital into patient-centred facility
The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey, has signed a major contract with Hewlett-Packard Company. HP's Medical Products Group will deliver 98 HP Viridia CMS series patient monitoring systems as well as 14 HP Viridia 24 series monitoring systems to this 400-bed health care facility. The substantial purchase fits into a new construction project to expand the hospital's existing CareVue installation and also integrate Device Link, HP's device interfacing tool. In addition, the various departments will be able to exchange patient data via HP's Remote Link.

Health care industry welcomes first round-the-clock online ordering system for medical supplies
From within its Medical Supplies business unit, Hewlett-Packard Company, as a renowned provider of health care equipment, has developed an efficient Internet shopping system for medical instruments. Health care institutions and facilities are now able to place online orders for more than 600 products, ranging from the popular HP Rappaport-Sprague stethoscope over cables, sensors and electrodes for HP patient monitors to defibrillators. The service is available at any time, seven days a week and 24 hours a day through a highly secured server. Health care customers just need to register at the Web site to enter the electronic supermarket.

Infoplex acquisition strengthens Real Software's position in the health care market
Real Software, a Belgian software services provider, has taken a 60% majority holding in the Frankfurt based company Infoplex Durdaut and Jassmann GmbH. As a major designer of high-tech database and analytical software for the pharmaceutical and health care industry, Infoplex forms an excellent opportunity for Real Software to proceed with its further integration into the health care sector. After two former acquisitions in this field, which are Oriam and Eider, Real Software will consolidate its position via the data mining activities of Infoplex and for the very first time obtain a local support facility in Germany.

Safeguard invests in patient privacy and announces consultancy merger to serve the pharmaceutical and health care industries
The future of patient medical data definitely lies in multiple forms of electronic storage. Integrated Visions Inc., as the most recent and fourth spin-out from XL Vision, which is Safeguard Scientifics' incubator of imaging technology companies, has developed the Privacy Curtain software. Based on the concept of biometric authentication, the programme offers secure and easy access to computerized patient information on intranets, extranets, and over a wide range of internets for telemedicine applications. Safeguard has decided to invest in the technology and in addition, has organized a merger between Integrated Systems Consulting Group and First Consulting Group. The combined company will indirectly enhance the quality of patient care by providing expert assistance to the commercial health care, pharmaceutical, and life sciences communities.

All the Ampersand Medical pieces fall into place through Bell National's merger operation with InPath
The biomolecular medical device company, InPath, LLC, forms the pivot in a complex business transaction between Bell National Corporation, headquartered in California, and newcomer Ampersand Medical Corporation, recently founded in Delaware to be based in Chicago. Specialized in point-of-care cytology systems, InPath has been subject to a strategic merger with Bell National, which in turn will merge with and into Ampersand Medical. All of Bell's shareholders will equally become shareholders of the Ampersand Medical Corporation as the surviving entity in this deal.

Partnering triumvirate to offer health care industry telemedicine pie with PACS
MarkCare Medical Systems Inc., WorldCare Technologies Inc., and Data General Corporation have closed a strategic alliance. These three major companies have proven their respective leadership in picture archiving and communications systems, referred to as PACS, telemedicine, and computing products for delivery to health care institutions all over the world. Together, they will bring state-of-the-art clinical information management solutions to the health care market. The radiology image management system, developed by MarkCare Medical Systems, currently running on Data General's AViiON server and CLARiiON storage platform, will be integrated into WorldCare's OpenMed Manager to enable telemedicine applications.

New L&H Investment Company plays Tech Farming chess with VoiceCommander 99 transaction
The two co-founders and current chairmen of Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products have set up a new investment company to speed up growth in the speech, language, artificial intelligence and related industries by way of strategic investments. The L&H Investment Company (LHIC) will operate independently from Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products and forms a major building block in the revolutionary concept of "Tech Farming". The LHIC market philosophy consists of delivering financial support at three different stages: seed financing; venture capital financing that is earmarked for research and development; and long-term investments. One of the first examples in this creative line of business constitutes the LHIC investment in Applied Voice Recognition Inc., a Houston-based provider of innovative voice recognition solutions for the health care information technology industry and designer of the Internet-based VoiceCommander 99 system.

British Airways to equip in-flight medical kit with integrated cardiac response system
Passengers travelling with British Airways, the fourth largest air carrier in the world, will enjoy increased safety and comfort in the future thanks to the introduction of both Medtronic Physio-Control's LIFEPAK 500 automated external defibrillator (AED) and Micromedical's Biolog portable electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor on board of each aircraft. Cardiac patient emergencies will be taken proper care of during the flight since the ECG data can immediately be transmitted to an expert physician on the ground via advanced satellite communications technology.

Industry comments on outlook of IST theme in Fifth Framework Programme
The European Commission has planned to launch the first call of the IST programme on January 27th 1999. The funding of the second theme, within the Fifth Framework Programme, known as the "User-friendly Information Society", amounts to 3,600 million euro. IST's first three key actions will each receive 17% of this budget, whereas technology and essential infrastructures, the fourth key action, has been granted 36%. A further 10% and 3% will be reserved for future and emerging technologies, and networking respectively. Representatives from the involved industries have expressed their views with regard to this distribution of the funding as well as to the structural organization of the calls and the Commission's patent policy on research results.

Launch of new temperature control microplate for economic use in laboratory research
The thermo-WELL microplate has been recently developed by the British company Pharmaceutical Technology Ltd. as a simple and economic solution to temperature controlled reactions in the laboratory. As such, the device meets the requirement for medium sample throughput. Designed to allow flexibility, thermo-WELL is a low cost option to synthesis and other temperature controlled processes, such as biological reactions, analysis and sample preparation. In addition to ensuring excellent temperature control and uniformity across the unit, the inlet-outlet connectors equally allow multiple units to be linked in series for increased sample capacity.

Fifth Framework Programme granted white smoke by Council of Ministers
Habemus FP5! On December 22nd 1998, a thoroughly successful Council has formally adopted the Fifth Framework Programme. During this meeting, the Ministers reached unanimous agreement on the legislation that is required to settle the rules for participation and dissemination. The first calls for proposals will be issued in February and March. The final budget for the programme amounts to 14.96 billion euro, which means an increase by 4.6 percent. Unlike in 1994, a smooth transition will be guaranteed when moving from the Fourth towards the Fifth Framework Programme.

Advanced ATM-network keeps Philips Medical Systems posted for the next ten years
Being one of the three largest providers of diagnostic equipment worldwide, Philips Medical Systems has been converted to Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) networking by Origin, a Philips-subsidiary. Both the development and the manufacturing of expensive scanner and ultrasound systems require extensive tests, based on Information Technology (IT) and image archival techniques. The PMS head-office also hosts an international training centre. The pressing need for an innovative network infrastructure led up to the obvious choice for ATM, almost two years ago. The migration from the obsolete Ethernet to the newly installed ATM, equipped with virtual Local Area Networks (V-LANs) will be completed in February.

Virtuoso to pioneer in remote system for virtually simulated cancer treatment planning
Within the vast Telematics Technologies Programme, set up by the European Commission, nine partners are working on a two-year telemedical project for clinical radio-oncology since August 1998. Four hospitals, three industrial players and two research institutions have united their forces to generate the Virtuoso demonstration site in order to incorporate telematical applications into an existing radiotherapy planning system. Cancer patients in desperate need of radiation treatment will be helped by means of a pre-validated plan acquired through virtual simulation techniques. In a second step, the digital patient data can be transmitted to distant radio-oncology facilities over the available networks for detailed consultation by specialists or supplementary Computed Tomography (CT) scanning.

Second special issue on European projects planned in April 1999
After the success of the first issue with an overview of the current status of European R&D projects in HPCN and telemedicine, Primeur magazine and Virtual Medical Worlds magazine, now plan a second one to be published in conjunction with ITIS-ITAB 99 at HPCN Europe in Amsterdam, April 1999. When your project has new results, this can be a good opportunity to bring it to the attention of a wider audiance.

New three-dimensional cardiac imaging technique commercialized by mid 1999
Several experiments with innovative 3D imaging techniques are currently conducted at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam to visualize the human heart in all its aspects, including the complete network of arteries as well as possible obstructions caused by fatty blockages. Nico Bruining, the Dutch researcher who is responsible for the project, has just been granted a doctor's degree for his efforts in developing the new technology, that is based on virtual heart models. These have been generated in conjunction with the German research institution, GMD. In turn, the German company Tomtec will transform the method into a commercial product for introduction to the market within half a year.

Electronic Data Interchange technology to organize centralized billing for office based surgical services
The Irving based Medical Alliance company is the only provider in the United States of nation wide office based surgical services for over 5000 physicians in forty different states. Global HealthNet, which is specialized in Electronic Data Interchange services, recently has completed a redesign of Medical Alliance's centralized billing system to transform this service into a more effective tool for fast and efficient claims processing and accounts receivable business practices. The new system, which supports electronic claims, electronic remittance advice and supply-chain transactions, already has proved to offer substantial benefits to Medical Alliance.

Adam Software to reveal inner workings of human body on the Internet
As a provider of visual medical information, Adam Software Inc. helps the user to understand the complex workings of the human body via the implementation of multimedia and Internet-enabled technologies. Since January 1999, the company introduces several parts of its award-winning dissectible anatomy database to the Internet in order to offer Web visitors the opportunity to explore their bodies in a way that was quite unimaginable before.

Next millennium's research and technologies showcased at Starlab's inaugural conference
From December 14th till 17th 1998, Starlab Research Laboratories organized its inaugural conference and demonstration days in Brussels to offer the interested audience a glimpse of future scientific development. The company welcomed an international selection of leading research experts, representatives from government and academic institutions, and corporate executives from various industrial sectors. At the end of the four-day event, the attendees were left with a clear picture of how ground-breaking research and state-of-the-art technologies can contribute to the benefit of the people's lives in the next century.

Telemedical applications support the breakthrough of anti-aging medicine
Dr. Ronald Klatz, founding physician of anti-aging and president of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, referred to as A4M, has just released two new books. "Hormones of Youth" illustrates how 90% of the current diseases are due to the degenerative consequences of aging. The emerging technologies of genetic testing and cloning form the revolutionary answers to this hot issue. In "Brain Fitness", the medical futurist reveals his medical predictions for 1999. Memory loss and cognitive decline will gradually be repelled with innovative therapies and new drugs whereas the introduction of interactive telemedicine consultations and inhaled insulin drug delivery systems undoubtedly will bring major relief to diabetic and other patients.

Blue Cross of California receives $1.5 million grant for rural telemedicine programme
The children of seasonal and migrant farm workers as well as the Native Americans belong to communities which always have been medically underserved. Their limited access to health care at last seems to be in for some major improvements. The Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) has awarded the substantial funding of $1.5 million to the Blue Cross of California (BCC) for the establishment of a series of projects to enhance the quality of care for this difficult to reach part of the population.

MedJava electronic medical imaging system opens the gate for filmless teleradiology
Dr. Douglas C. Schmidt, associate professor of computer science at Washington University in Missouri, has transformed Java, the Web's most popular programming language, into a system for electronic medical imaging via the Internet. The MedJava solution will be implemented in the ambitious Project Spectrum which has to interconnect the independent heterogeneous computer systems of 18 acute care facilities and over 5500 physicians into a single integrated network within the BJC Health System, the multihospital affiliate of Washington University. Since a growing number of clinics aims at the conversion from film-based technology to digital image acquisition and transmission, MedJava seems to constitute the appropriate tool to promote teleradiology as a means for remote diagnostic conferencing and eventually for distant surgery.

Challenges in North American medical communities met by computer and information technology
During the last decade of the millennium, handfuls of daunting issues have arisen within the North American health care sector. There is a growing need for cost-saving yet qualitative patient care due to threatening spending restraints. The U.S. government is fully occupied with the revision of medicare programmes. In addition, physicians show an ever increasing dependency on alternative health practitioners. At the same time, they are facing a substantial patient growth in the future, caused by the aging baby-boomers' generation. On top of this, hospitals and health care institutions are completely being reorganized to enter the 21st century. Should it come as a surprise then if health professionals desperately seek for assistance in the world of innovative computer and information technologies?

Talking Signs system to guide visually impaired people through City Hall
The recently finished San Francisco City Hall Renovation Project includes the innovative implementation of a user-friendly infra-red wireless communications system to allow blind and vision impaired persons to easily orient themselves inside the large City Hall building. The audible guidance installation has been designed by Talking Signs Inc. while the technology has been pioneered at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, situated at the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center in San Francisco.

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to receive grant for genome workshop organization
In 1990, the ambitious Human Genome Project saw the light as a 15-year international scientific effort to map the complete DNA sequence of the human being. The entire structure of 50.000 to 100.000 human genes has been estimated to comprise about three billion base pairs. The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) recently awarded the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center a $146.000 grant to conduct genome workshops for biomedical scientists in order to familiarize the researchers with the benefits of high-performance computing for DNA sequence analysis.