The organisation of a Telemedical Information Society (TIS) implies the idea of cooperation through communication. In this regard, the set up of a Virtual Medical Worlds Community (VMWC) possibly might give concrete form to this envisaged collaboration. At the ITIS'98 Conference, VMWC-project manager Ad Emmen introduced the concept and indicated the steps which already have been taken. The general purpose is to bring together telemedicine workers and advanced Information Technology (IT) suppliers to accelerate TIS developments on a European scale.
In its ideal form, the VMW Community has to host users in the (tele)medical sector, IT suppliers, active in the field of High Performance Computer Networking (HPCN), Virtual Reality (VR), and Internet facilities, as well as technology enablers from universities and research institutes. In this way, a synergy can be created, allowing the medical sector both to benefit from recent HPCN and VR developments, and to interact and exchange knowhow with the IT sector.
Mutual contacts should be established through a Web based Virtual Community by means of a monthly news service, a range of discussion forums, and the organisation of conferences, workshops and technical meetings. Hitherto, three elements can be considered as important, preliminary VMWC initiatives. First of all, the Euromed standardisation project, second the ITIS Conference and third, a VMW Web site which hosts the Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine, the ITIS Web site and a profiles & discussion page.
The VMW magazine can operate as the central meeting point between the different parties in the VMW Community. Backed up by an international advisory board, it offers a monthly telemedicine digest for high performance computing in health care, some interesting news analysis and resource links, and a timely calendar. This news service is available on the Web or as e-mail version. Maybe a small step yet towards a real VMW Community but hopefully the start of something big ...