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.
The Bristol Medical Simulation Centre was established about two years ago as one of the most sophisticated of its kind in the world. Health care professionals are offered the opportunity to train their skills in a fully-equipped operating theatre on a computer-guided virtual patient model. In this way, physicians are able to gain first hand experience with all sorts of crisis and emergency medicine without ever exposing any real patient to life-threatening risks. Anaesthesiologists safely can test the precise impact of new drugs. It is even possible to perform research into the "human factors" with regard to individual members of the medical team.
The MultiMed project team now is aiming to extend the use of the BMSC to remote users via high bandwidth satellite communication networks. At the University of Bristol, both Dr. Mark Tooley from the Centre for Physics and Engineering Research in Medicine and Dr. Frances Forrest, who works at the Department of Anaesthesia, are responsible for the multimedia approach of the BMSC training and education programme. The University is partnering with the United Bristol Healthcare National Health Service Trust in a special consortium, led by ESYS Limited, an independent IT consultancy expert in multimedia and satellite communications.
The other project participants include the renowned Institute of Telemedicine and Telecare of the Queen's University of Belfast, Healthworks Ltd and HOT Telecommunications Ltd., a broadband satellite service provider and formerly known as Hughes Olivetti Telecom. HOT will install satellite link-ups for real time, interactive communication between BMSC and a UK national network of ten centres. At a later stage, the connections will be extended worldwide. Via a single PC-based workstation and a satellite dish, medical trainees will be able to practise all types of "live" emergency scenarios from their remote location.
The MultiMed application will allow remote physicians and nurses to monitor the human patient simulator (HPS), referred to as Stan the Man, to input drugs and equally to control a wide range of monitors and ventilators. In addition, an on-line reference system will be put into place for the trainee to use customized courseware as a comprehensive suite of interactive specialist teaching programmes, built on scripted sessions within the BMSC. The application includes an archive of reference material, a live news service as well as a fully updated drugs database. MultiMed will provide an extended Medline service with key articles for direct electronic transmission.
As a result, the MultiMed system will offer an extremely high quality tuition for an extensive variety of health care related professions, such as medical students, nurses, physicians, consultant anaesthesiologists, researchers in drug companies, operating department assistants, and so on. Applying the BMSC as a remote on-line training facility will constitute an important cost-reducing factor while simultaneously increasing its targeted reach. You can find more details on the MultiMed project at the Web page of the University of Bristol.