In his introductory talk, ITIS'98 chairman Andy Marsh defined the scope of the Euromed project and outlined the frame for a future Telemedical Information Society (TIS) as to try and trigger off plenty of fertile discussion among the conference participants during this three-day gathering on telemedicine in its multiple aspects. He introduced the World Wide Web as the common glue between the different multi-media medical information systems, using the power of Java and the variety of local servers. The central focus in the system is the patient health care homepage as a unique URL address on the Web. This collective point of all dispersed medical patient data constitutes the core of the organisational TIS structure, formed by Euromed's twenty building blocks.
The Euromed project workers have elaborated the "Virtual Medical Worlds" standard as a useful means to offer a homogeneous communication protocol for hypergraphics and hypertextual information in order to facilitate navigation and accessibility of a dispersed patient health care record. Distribution of relevant medical patient data indeed will form the major issue within a 21st century health care environment. As a result, twenty interfaced building blocks have been identified to generate a telemedical information society, based on Virtual Medical Worlds.
Within Euromed, a patient homepage model is being developed, hosting the graphical template of the body. By following the hypergraphical links, the practitioner is able to access the Atlas and organ templates or enter the specialities and records sections which act as shortcuts into the patient medical record. By means of Java-applets, it is possible to visualise and manipulate the templates. A wide range of local and remote services have been provided to generate 3D models and operate on them for diagnostic or educational purposes.
If we look at the future, hospital networks will become accessible through plug-ins from outside. No supercomputing department is needed at the medical facility because the hospital information system will connect via the local application server to remote data management or computational services. The ultimate goal is to arrive at a uniform level of health care. In order to achieve this result, we should avoid to work independently in all sorts of small European projects. The right answer to the TIS challenge can only be a strong cooperation through vast communication. We refer to the "Euromed newsbites" section in our different back-issues and to the section analysis of our magazine for detailed information on the Euromed project.