Advanced telemedicine system links four European hospitals using GÉANT and local research networks





Healthcare across Europe could be improved through a new telemedicine system demonstrated today across the GÉANT academic network and various national research networks. Three hospitals across Europe have been linked for the first time using an advanced video conferencing system. This enables the sharing of high quality, real-time video images of surgery for training and diagnosis.

The demonstration, at the TERENA Network Conference (TNC) on 10 June 2009, links St Olav’s University Hospital in Norway, connected through the Norwegian UNINETT network, the Monaldi Hospital in Italy via the Italian GARR network and the Hospital Clinica Barcelona, through the Spanish RedIRIS network, to each other via the pan-European GÉANT network and also to the TNC venue in Malaga, Spain over RedIRIS. Staff at each hospital will provide a tour of surgical operating facilities or show how endoscopic surgery can be transmitted for training purposes across the high speed GÉANT network, which is operated by research networking organisation DANTE.

Healthcare across Europe could be improved through a new telemedicine system demonstrated today across the GÉANT academic network and various national research networks. Three hospitals across Europe have been linked for the first time using an advanced video conferencing system. This enables the sharing of high quality, real-time video images of surgery for training and diagnosis.

The demonstration, at the TERENA Network Conference (TNC) on 10 June 2009, links St Olav’s University Hospital in Norway, connected through the Norwegian UNINETT network, the Monaldi Hospital in Italy via the Italian GARR network and the Hospital Clinica Barcelona, through the Spanish RedIRIS network, to each other via the pan-European GÉANT network and also to the TNC venue in Malaga, Spain over RedIRIS. Staff at each hospital will provide a tour of surgical operating facilities or show how endoscopic surgery can be transmitted for training purposes across the high speed GÉANT network, which is operated by research networking organisation DANTE.

Traditionally telemedicine has been held back by poor image quality and a need for expensive equipment. The demonstration, created and run by the TEMDEC project (Telemedicine Development Center of Asia) at the Medical School of Kyushu University in Japan, successfully overcomes these issues. By using GÉANT and National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) it provides high image quality, transmitted at 30 Mbps using Digital Video Transport System (DVTS) equipment that can be run from a standard PC.

“Telemedicine has the power to improve medical training and patient care across Europe,” said Dai Davies, General Manager, DANTE. “It provides the ability to view new surgical techniques and collaborate internationally on diagnosis and share skills and experience. The success of this demonstration shows how high speed networking can underpin telemedicine across Europe and the world, enhancing healthcare for all.”

The TEMDEC project has been a pioneer in using telemedicine to improve surgical training. Since being set up in 2003, it has carried out over 100 demonstrations across the world, of techniques that include laparoscopic gastric surgery, neurosurgery, endoscopy and colon surgery. This is the first TEMDEC-led project that links hospitals across Europe.

“Surgical training has traditionally been based on observing operations and learning from them,” said Dr Shuji Shimizu, Department of Endoscopic Diagnostics and Therapeutics Kyushu University Hospital and Leader of TEMDEC. “As surgical skills become more specialised we need to be able to train surgeons remotely in order to improve knowledge transfer and enhance abilities. Using television-quality video over the GÉANT network to remotely watch live keyhole surgery undertaken in other countries, promises a disruptive change to training in this area, benefiting all involved. We hope that this demonstration is the first step in the adoption of increased telemedicine use across Europe.”

Over 100 hospitals across the world have expressed interest in becoming involved in telemedicine for surgical training. As technology evolves, the TEMDEC project is looking to move from DVTS video to High Definition (HD) pictures to further enhance quality.

GÉANT is the high-bandwidth, academic Internet serving Europe’s research and education community. Through the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) it connects, GÉANT reaches over 30 million researchers with a multi-domain topology spanning 32 European countries and links to a number of other world regions, GÉANT is at the heart of global research networking.

As well as the telemedicine demonstration, GÉANT is heavily represented at the TERENA Networking Conference with 14 presentations, a GÉANT booth with user and technology demonstrations and the exhibition area will showcase other uses of the network, including the ASTRA project that has used GÉANT to bring the sounds of ancient instruments to life.

About DANTE:

DANTE is a non-profit organisation, coordinator of large-scale projects co-funded by the European Commission, and working in partnership with European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to plan, build and operate advanced networks for research and education. Established in 1993, DANTE has been fundamental to the success of pan-European research and education networking. DANTE has built and operates GÉANT, which provides the data communications infrastructure essential to the success of many research projects in Europe. DANTE is involved in worldwide initiatives to interconnect countries in the other regions to one another and to GÉANT. DANTE currently manages projects focussed on the Mediterranean, Latin American and Asia-Pacific regions through the EUMEDCONNECT, ALICE and TEIN projects, respectively. For more information, visit www.dante.net

About TEMDEC:

TEMDEC stands for Telemedicine Development Center of Asia, formally organized in Kyushu University Hospital, Japan, in October 2008. Its aim is to establish an advanced medical network mainly in Asia-Pacific region using super broadband Internet, replacing the activity of a consortium called AQUA, which started in 2003. We will dedicate to facilitate medical exchange beyond geographical borders for ultimate benefits to patients and healthcare of people all over the world. For more information, visit http://www.aqua.med.kyushu-u.ac.jp

About RedIRIS:

RedIRIS is the Spanish academic and research network, which, since 1988, provides advanced communication services to the Spanish Universities and public research centres. It is funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and managed by Red.es, which belongs to the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade. For more information, visit http://www.rediris.es

About GARR

GARR is the Italian Academic and Research telecommunication network. Its main goal is to provide high bandwidth connectivity and advanced services to the national scientific and academic community. The GARR network is fully integrated into the worldwide Internet.

Currently, GARR is connected to more than 450 user sites, including research organisations, universities, observatories, laboratories, scientific research and healthcare institutes, (IRCCS), music conservatories and academies of performing arts, libraries, schools, museums and other scientific and educational facilities of national and international relevance. It has more than 2 million end users. For more information, visit http://www.garr.it