March 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.
The programme is now available!

Scroll down - or select a section:

ITIS-ITAB'99 to shape the future of telemedicine into a multi-faceted diamond
Telemedicine is definitely alive and kicking. A quick glance at the conference programme of this year's ITIS-ITAB'99 event offers sufficient proof of evidence. Inventive and practical plans to enhance the concept of Virtual Medical Worlds on the Web already are emerging from the Euromed project which only seemingly draws to an end. Tangible results will be presented in the crucial fields of cardiac imaging, nursing education, wireless connectivity and advanced network applications for clinical use. And there will even be a third day for health care adepts in store...

Euromednet satellite network introduces advanced telemedicine in Mediterranean regions
One of the most strong and dedicated promoters of telemedicine via satellite definitely is the European Space Agency (ESA). Currently, the organization is actively involved in the Euromednet project. The final aim is to deploy a Telemedicine Operation Centre for the transmission of medical data and images between several health care facilities in the Mediterranean area, from Bucharest over Sarajevo and Tirana to Milan, Rome and Palermo. Co-ordinator of the initiative is Telbios, an Italian consortium of researchers, active in the fields of space medicine, telemedicine and space biotechnology. The final release of the software is scheduled for December 1999, after which pilot operations will be planned to assess the validity of telemedicine via the use of ISDN and satellite.

Tim-Tem team requires urgent funding to build regular Telemedicine Station on Tilos
Remember Tilos, the little island in the Greek Dodecanneso. Here, an inspired team from the Post-graduate School of Emergency Surgery at the University of Pisa, is working hard on the realization of an exportable model for telemedicine services in rural and isolated areas, with assistance of the resident physician and two nurses. VMW Magazine closely has been following their efforts throughout the spring, summer and autumn of 1998. Professor Enrico Cavina and his team performed a clinical mapping of almost the entire island population and launched the very first successful teleconsultation sessions with a profound respect to local habits, which are deeply rooted in the people's hearts and minds. Winter calls for yet another visit to "Tilos Medicine & Tele-medicine" to assess the impact of seasonal conditions on the project.

The use of Virtual Reality as an advanced communication tool in therapy
Since many years, Professor Giuseppe Riva is actively involved in the research on Virtual Reality Environments for psycho-neuro-physiological assessment and rehabilitation. The useful experience gained in the VREPAR projects, funded by the European Commission, has led to a profound insight in the communicative potential of Virtual Reality, especially when applied in a therapeutic context for the patient's sake and benefit. During the Seventh Conference of Medicine Meets Virtual Reality that was held last January in San Francisco, the scientific work of Dr. Riva and his colleague, Dr. Mantovani, faced the audience with some remarkable results, relating to the impact of telepresence on human interaction in a virtual environment.

Testing the reliability of a stereotaxic telerobotic system for prostate biopsies
In the Mechanics Department at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy, a team of engineers is working on the development of a telerobotic system for prostate biopsies, under the dedicated guidance of Professor Alberto Rovetta. Last January, the first encouraging testing results were presented during the seventh edition of the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference in San Francisco. The programme involves the implementation of diagnostic imaging and surgical sample taking, as well as the accurate design of safety and control functions in the remotely controlled system. If the project is able to demonstrate the reliability of this telerobotics solution, medical industrial companies, which are active in the surgical field, will most likely consider to take the system into production.

Advanced satellite technology brings simulated medical emergency scenarios "live" to the desktop
In the United Kingdom, five academic and industrial partners have set up a consortium to develop a real time multimedia health care training and education service for physicians and nurses. The 15-month MultiMed project will link ten remote centres throughout the UK to the Bristol Medical Simulation Centre (BMSC) via satellite. The total value of the initiative which is the first of its kind in the UK and worldwide amounts to 1 million. For a major part, MultiMed will be funded by the European Space Agency through a 895,000 contract within the framework of the Telemedicine/Teleeducation ARTES-3 Multimedia Initiative.

Medical Databases
Finland has an exceptionally complete demographic data, which enables large epidemiological studies. A database called the Mini-Finland, with the medical information of 8,000 citizens over 30 years of age, portrays the average Finn with his or her diseases.

Note from the VMW editorial team:
"Medical Databases" already appeared in December 1998 in CSC News, the magazine on High Performance Computing and Networking in Finland, Volume 10, No 4. VMW wishes to kindly thank the CSC News Editorial Staff and the author, Dr. Martti Kormano, Professor of Diagnostic Radiology, University of Turku, Finland, for granting permission to publish the article.

IBM doubles performance RS/6000 SP supercomputer by including POWER3 processors
IBM announced RS/6000 SP supercomputers based on the 2 Gflop/s POWER3 microprocessor. The new machines have doubled the performance of the previous systems. IBM expects to market the new machine to new application areas like data mining and business intelligence too. As of this month, IBM has shipped more than 5,500 SP systems with more than 55,000 nodes in the five-and-a-half years since the SP was introduced.

Pacific Northwest physicians to benefit from electronic lab services via Pointshare
Doctors find themselves under a heavy work pressure nowadays, which forces them to see more patients in less time. On the other hand, the physician is losing precious time gathering all the clinical and administrative data he needs by hand. Health care professionals are drowning in paper and still often lack valuable information to offer the patient the best medical care possible. Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories (PAML) constitutes one of the few health care organizations in the Northwest making use of medical intranets and online services to deal with the acute issue of the ever growing administrative load on physicians. In conjunction with Pointshare, PAML is providing doctors with an ideal solution to obtain essential patient results at the very moment they are available.

Boston doctors to view radiological images from home over virtual private network
A virtual private network has been implemented for the benefit of physicians working in a Boston-area hospital, after an extensive trial which was conducted during the past summer. The virtual private network (VPN) technology enables neurosurgeons to view large radiological images from a PC in their home office over an existing high-speed broadband cable modem service with use of commercial medical imaging software. Regular visits to the hospital in order to review trauma cases will be substantially restricted in the future thanks to the new application, secured both by encryption and authentication features at an affordable price. This low-cost telemedicine solution is likely to provide the patient with faster and more adequate help.

Teaching and learning human anatomy through Internet-based customizable imagery database
Within the framework of the Advanced Technology Programme, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded A.D.A.M. Software, Inc. with a $1,262 million grant to set up a database management system for medical education. The multi-level, authoring tool is designed to be used on the Internet and will present customized, multimedia imagery of the human body, enabling both educators and students to modify, expand and annotate the medical illustration materials of human anatomy. By the year 2000, the project will be finished and the database will be ready for use by hospitals, physicians, health care organizations as well as the commercial community of software vendors and publishers.

Echo in Context Teleconference for the second time broadcast to Asia-Pacific region
The Annual Echo in Context Teleconference surely constitutes the longest-running telemedicine educational event in the world. The fourteenth edition of this live programme dedicated to ultrasound was sponsored both by Duke University Medical Center and Hewlett-Packard Company. Experts in over 140 cities in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas were able to watch the lectures and discussions on "Clinical Impact: New Solutions to the Oldest Echo Problems", this year's selected theme. Over 7500 people were offered a chance to follow the programme, which for the second year already was broadcast to the Asia-Pacific region.

Innovative colorization method for magnetic resonance imaging yields grant to Brenau University
Dr. Keith Brown works as a professor in the Occupational Therapy Department at Brenau University in the state of Georgia. The many years of valuable experience as a histologist and electron microscopist, have inspired this creative inventor and enthusiastic teacher to develop a novel technology for colorized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Image Analysis Inc., which is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, immediately acknowledged the use of coloured MRI scans for diagnostic purposes. The company did not hesitate to provide Dr. Brown with a $345,000 grant as part of a sponsored research agreement. The funding will support the refinement of the patented colorization method for commercial use within two years.

Health care libraries discover art of electronic data management in corporate intranets
Today, competitive intelligence and news dissemination have been elevated to special sciences. Corporate libraries host a tremendous wealth of information resources, which can turn their role into an important strategic asset. Intranet technology seems to function as a major key to accurate data retrieval and management. Both Mallinckrodt, Inc. and The American Heart Association, two prominent health care organizations, have found very useful support in the DB/Text WebPublisher software, as designed by Inmagic, Inc. The flexible library automation tool not only provides both the external user and the institutions' employees with a prompt access to the requested data but also integrates advanced applications, which move way beyond the use of the simple library catalogue.

New patent to protect robotically enhanced surgery in the operating theatre
Surgical procedures involve the regular change of instruments, such as graspers, scissors and needle drivers, during the operation. The world specialist in medical robotics, Computer Motion, has just obtained the issuance of a new patent which protects the fundamental concepts applied in robotically enhanced surgery. One of them constitutes the act of intra-operative surgical instrument changing, which is of vital importance in all surgical interventions performed with the ZEUS Robotic Surgical System. In endoscopic heart bypass surgery, the interchange of instruments attached to the robotic arm should be able to take place in a fast and flexible way.

Vitrea and A3DI software transform 3D medical imaging into clinical routine
The Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has decided to purchase four Vitrea software licenses for computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) image data. The acquisition of the four licenses crown the recent inauguration of a state-of-the-art 3D imaging laboratory for the hospital's radiology department. The Vitrea software, designed by Vital Images Inc., features a built-in clinical workflow and real-time navigation of 3D volume data, allowing the surgeon to view and interactively manipulate the anatomy in 3D at full resolution, without sacrificing any of the detail imaged on the scanner.

Lancaster Health Alliance to select RecordLink as hospital workflow and document management system
Streamlining the medical information management process has become a priority issue in today's health care facilities. As the overall health care organization responsible for the inhabitants of Lancaster and Chester Counties in South-central Pennsylvania, Lancaster Health Alliance recently entered into a commercial agreement with American Management Systems. This consultancy company will implement RecordLink, a hospital document management and workflow tool, within the 30 health care related entities of Lancaster Health Alliance in the course of 1999.

Tremont's Point-of-Care workstations integrated into Data General's health care solutions
Tremont Medical Inc. has been established in 1992 as a designer of mobile computers and wireless workstations for the health care industry. Recently, the company has signed a partnering agreement with Data General to market its Point-of-Care Terminal (PCT) product family together with the AViiON enterprise servers, CLARiiON storage systems, Local Area Network solutions and other Point-of-Care (POC) products, provided by Data General. From now on, medical enterprises will be offered a comprehensive as well as integrated set of qualitative health care solutions.

Cleveland Clinic awarded $3 million DoD grant to design combat field 3D ultrasound
Newly emerging technologies in the areas of telemedicine and high speed ultrasound are likely to completely change the treatment methods for soldiers injured in combat action. The United States Department of Defense recently decided to grant the Lerner Research Institute at Cleveland Clinic a three year funding of over $3 million. At Lerner's Department of Biomedical Engineering, a team of five researchers for the first time will develop a three-dimensional ultrasound system for medical corpsmen to apply both in field hospitals and in combat conditions.

Mercury Awards to rank top of major city hospitals online
Recently, two health care information pioneers in the media and on the Web, have introduced the Mercury Awards to identify and to rate the overall performance of top hospitals in metropolitan areas, and also to mark their scores in the three categories of cardiology, oncology and orthopaedics. America's Health Network (AHN) and the HCIA company have just released the results of two new studies relating to the major New York and Salt Lake City health care centres. The complete report of the hospital rankings can be freely consulted online at the AHN's Web site and will remain there for the rest of the year to provide the consumer with clear, decisive information on patient quality care.

Doctor, what about your own ".MD" quality label on the Internet?
Medical professionals, hospitals and businesses related to health care now receive the opportunity to obtain a unique Internet address which strongly enhances their visibility on the Web. Only recently, Professional Domains Inc., a Californian company based in Beverly Hills, has introduced a special and exclusive ".MD" (pronounced "dot md") domain registry to be used by the drug company that wants to be directly distinctive among its competitors or by the general practitioner who wishes to be immediately identified with the health care practice. Since the ".MD" top level Internet domain became available last December, more than six hundred names have already been registered by the medical community.

Mini WorkBench new baby in Fakespace's immersive visualization assortment
The VersaBench and the Immersive WorkBench, the well known family of virtual model display (VMD) systems, designed by the Fakespace company, recently were expanded with a versatile and transportable baby brother. The Mini WorkBench serves indeed as a foldable VMD version for qualitative stereoscopic viewing and efficient manipulation of dimensionally accurate 3D visualizations. In addition, the model also supports direct 2D design input in real time by means of an on-screen digitizing tablet and a direct input pen. The interactive tool provides the scientific and industrial user with bright 3D images of an excellent sharpness.

CV Source offers cardiac surgeons access to clinical outcomes and online communication with peers
At the annual meeting of the Society for Thoracic Surgeons, the Bethesda-based health information systems company, iMedix, launched an innovative solution to automate the collection, comparison and analysis of cardiovascular clinical outcomes. CV Source indeed delivers real time and accurate data for cardiac patient care on any Internet-enabled PC. Today, cardiac surgeons, programme managers and administrators can subscribe to the CV Source service and obtain instant access as well to the online cardiac care community to share knowledge and experience in focused discussion groups.

GTE-ViTelNet team opens integration lab to demonstrate commercial telemedicine solutions
Companies with complementary knowhow can generate a fertile partnership. An excellent example constitutes the recent strategic alliance between Visual Telecommunications Network, a telemedicine software and systems designer, and GTE Government Systems, a major provider of tools for integrated telecommunications. Together, both corporations intend to play a pioneering role in supplying all-in telehealth solutions to commercial, non-profit and government customers all over the world. For this purpose, the two partners have established an integration laboratory to present all potential types of telemedicine system configurations. And this is only the first step to what will amount into a national demonstration network for the research and marketing of telemedicine products.

Data Dimensions partners with Unicare for day to day maintenance service and production support
The Unicare Life and Health Insurance Company provides quality health care plans to approximately two million medical members in 26 states and counts 50 offices all over the United States. As the nationwide operating unit of WellPoint Health Networks Inc., this organization has now signed an agreement with Data Dimensions for the delivery of application maintenance and support services associated with Unicare's HanStar-2 programmes. Only recently, this key software for claims management has been made fully year 2000 compliant by the same partner.

Claims Warehouse to stop endless search through microfilm or paper files
Will the processors of medical claims soon be over and done with the time-consuming and expensive handling of microfilms and paper-based archives? The introduction of the Claims Warehouse service holds in store the beautiful promise of an automatic, quick and adequate scanning system for health care claims and all of their related documents. A wide variety of health care institutions already has been tempted by the heavenly idea of a clean office, free from bulging film and paper storage. GTESS Corporation now provides a practical answer to this vision.

Birth of the United Kingdom Telemedicine Association
The United Kingdom Telemedicine Association (UKTA) has just been established. This is a preliminary announcement for those active in Telemedicine and Telecare. A formal launch will take place shortly, until when there will not be an active Web site.

Henley to acquire Internet enabled graphical medical image resource library
By way of NuTech Alliance Group Inc., which is a wholly owned subsidiary, the Henley Group Inc. has acquired the full rights to an Internet enabled graphical medical image resource library. In the near future, this library will be expanded to no less than 15.000 images.

China and Pacific Rim countries supplied with LANscape videosystem for telemedicine applications
In 1998, the Global Telecommunications Partnership Program (GTPP) has been established in China as a consortium of two telemedicine communication networks and a network installation company. GTPP's aim is to develop the transfer of medical expertise through telecommunications networks and to provide the most adequate health care from any distance, no matter how isolated the patient's location may be. In this regard, GTPP has entered into a non-exclusive business partnership with Intelect Visual Communications (IVC) for the delivery of LANscape video systems for a total value of $1.7 million.

AET's 3D medical imaging software Easymage winner of European IT Prize 1998
At the Information Society Technologies Conference, which took place last December in Vienna, the European Information Technology Prize 1998 was awarded to Advanced Engineering Technology for Easymage, a low-cost modular programme used in 3D medical imaging applications. AET is an Italian provider of multimedia processing systems, based in Genoa. The European Commission and the European Council of Applied Sciences and Engineering each year reserve a funding of .5 million to support the most innovative product, designed by a European company or organization.

America's Health Network introduces the Internet Health Mall
A new online superstore, specialized in health care products, has been launched on the Web recently. The Health Mall idea has been fostered by America's Health Network, a popular source of medical information on the Internet. America's Health Mall offers the customer a wide variety of health, fitness and medical products, from knee braces over vitamins to abdominal exercise machines.