November 1997

VMW is a monthly Virtual Magazine on Telemedicine and High Performance Computing and Networking for readers interested in computer applications in medical environments. It is produced by an editorial team composed of professionals in publishing. and an advisory board with professionals in telemedicine, provides the embedding into the everyday practice and research. Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine is sponsored by HPCnet.

HPCnet -
Network of Excellence



U.S. National Library of Medicine is tracking down Telemedicine implementations for health care
Within the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), telemedicine represents an important topic of investigation. The NIH, celebrating its 100th birthday, is one of eight health agencies of the U.S. Public Health Service which, in turn, is embedded in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) constitutes one of the NIH's spearheads in the field of High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) and telemedicine in particular. According to Michael Ackerman, assistant director for HPCC at the NLM, the NIH strives to ensure privacy of information, completeness and correctness of content and wide availability of health care, using HPCC and the National Information Infrastructure (NII) network.

Stanford bids welcome to the NASA-sponsored national biocomputation centre
The use of virtual reality in medicine is a major topic for both American and European researchers. At the Stanford University School of Medicine, Professor Stephen Schendel already started a project two years ago, in collaboration with Muriel Ross, a NASA neuroscientist. Together, they developed a virtual-surgery workbench enabling surgeons to visualise a complex surgery in a 3-D environment. This initiative shows a remarkable analogy to the VRASP-technology, the Virtual Reality Assisted Surgery Program, presently developed by the Euromed metacentres. NASA officials were so enthusiastic about the results that they didn't hesitate to launch the idea of a national biocomputation centre in which researchers will apply complex computing skills to the practice of medicine.

How to get a picture of your brain in action in ten seconds ...
If you have ever asked yourself what a supercomputer can do for ordinary people, you should have a look at what is happening at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. Scientists there have succeeded in converting scan data almost immediately into an animated 3-D image of the patient's brain activity by linking a MRI scanner with a supercomputer using high-speed networks. The Pittsburgh team, including physicians and technologists at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh MedicalCenter and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, have demonstrated this ten seconds brain-mapping on October 8th 1997 at the next-generation Internet symposium in Washington D.C.

The BioNOME Resource: a new approach in biomedical science
Biomedical scientists nowadays are spending far less time testing with animals in their laboratories. They are running their biological models on a supercomputer to predict the effects of drugs, chemicals and other physical factors on humans and other organisms. To analyse the complex processes of life, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) will soon develop the BioNOME Resource to assist biologists in creating better models that describe how various living systems regulate themselves and interact with each other. Andrew McCulloch, co-director of the program and professor of bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego School of Engineering, situates this Biology Network of Modelling Efforts (BioNOME) in its full context.


Asynchronous Transfer Mode, a revolutionary tool for health care networking
Recently, the Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology has been recognised as a pioneering high performance computing and network invention for delivering time-sensitive data, voice and video. Local area networks (LANs) as well as wide area networks (WANs) are being harmoniously integrated thanks to the ATM supported systems. Health care providers have realised themselves fairly fast that they are able to utilise this ATM tool for everything from standard office applications to remote diagnosis and distance learning. Indeed, unlike data-only technologies, ATM provides guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) for on-time delivery, can manage a wide range of speeds and handle a possible network growth. Enough qualities to convince the Københavns Amt, Sygehusdirektoratet (KAS) Hospital Group to standardise on ATM provided by FORE Systems, Inc.

The European Health Telematics Observatory or knowledge as a creating power to act
In 1996, the strongly felt needs for a sound information and knowledge base in the health telematics sector were given concrete form in the foundation of the European Health Telematics Observatory (EHTO). A few years earlier, the AIM (Advanced Informatics in Medicine) Community had already taken under its wings the various projects dealing with the new ideas, evolutions and research concerning the development of health telematics and telemedicine. On the other hand, the European Commission expressed her desire for a general vision on the information technology infrastructure towards the 21st century in three major documents, namely the Delors White Book, the Bangemann Report and the Green Paper. It is in this light that the present activities of the EHTO should be considered.


EUROMED proposes cure for health care security
The Euromed telemedicine project aims at creating a Virtual Medical World where all medical information is available everywhere were it is needed. However revolutionary the concept of telemedicine may be, both patients and physicians most certainly do not rejoice at the idea of having scattered, highly confidential medical data throughout the World Wide Web open to consultation for every curious eye, indiscreet or not. How is the EUROMED project dealing with the problem of safely sending its Virtual Medical Worlds information over the Internet? Euromed-ETS should provide the solution.

Learning to take your Virtual Medicine
Telemedicine is moving into an area where HPC, telematics and the Internet are working together to help physicians. EUROMED, a three year project supported by the European Commission which started out in January 1996, is reconciling HPCN technology to medical applications with increasing success. Physicians in the remotest areas of Europe are on the verge of stepping into the 'Brave New World' of Virtual Medical Worlds with a little help from a simple PC.

The life and times of the Cineca HPC-Centre in telemedicine
The Cineca consortium has been established as a supercomputing centre in 1969 in a strategic geographical location in Italy. Besides research centres and private industry, thirteen universities are taking part in it. At present, Cineca is focusing on offering solutions in various but specific application fields. Therefore, a grant program has been put up in 1993 to permit a continuous submission scheme which supports the most interesting projects. One of the key domains the supercomputing centre has concentrated on is health care. A great deal of practical programs are actually running to improve medical diagnosis. VMW had a look at some fascinating examples.

Euromed's framework for the 21st century telemedical information society
The telemedicine concept is slowly but sure breaking through into the consciousness of both physicians and industrials. Information technologists are occupied with developing orderly structures for efficient and save usage of high computing tools to the advantage of medical applications. Indeed, the future telemedical information society should not be allowed to evolve in an ad hoc manner, according to Dr. Andrew Marsh. The Euromed project manager has taken up his responsibilities. This has resulted in the creation of an overall framework which consists of twenty building blocks amounting into the 39 steps leading up to a realistic image of the 21st century health care community. Let's have a look at this thrilling scenario...