of the early telemedicine sites in the world started at
East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, North Carolina.
ECU's School of Medicine introduced telemedicine consultation
in late 1992 when the the state's largest maximum security
prison contracted the school to provide telemedicine services.
to ECU's director of telemedicine, David C. Balch, that
single step opened corridors to explore the practice and
implementation of telemedicine.
the years, the technical team at ECU has integrated advanced
telecommunications technologies into a homogenous hybrid
network of microwave, T1, ATM, ISDN, and Internet video
which allows for the deployment of the most cost effective
technology to each site.
microwave network provides full duplex connections statewide
to 40 sites with three discrete channels of audio, video,
and data. The ATM/SONET network, which is part of the
North Carolina Information Highway, provides links to
200 distance learning sites and 11 telemedicine sites.
network is also connected to six rural hospitals and four
medical centres in the region. These different networks
are integrated into a large hybrid network called REACH-TV
(Rural Eastern Carolina Health Television).
and the ECU's Telemedicine Training Program are conducting
courses and seminars, continuing medical education programmes,
and managing a wide variety of video-conferences over
each of these networks.
says that the large testbed enabled them to test and develop
technology resources, network management skills, scheduling
tools and the infrastructure for the next generation of
telemedicine programme will continue the integration of
patient information and management tools into its network,''
he says, adding that ECU will begin to test and implement
Virtual Reality tools in the telemedicine environment.
hybrid network of rural hospitals and medical centres
will be expanded alongside plans to introduce telemedicine
into homes under its new TeleHome Care programme.
also revealed that doctors at ECU had the honour of being
the first to participate in a telemedicine program on
demonstration at SIGGRAPH held in Los Angeles in 1995.
had a chance to try out their bedside manner when experts
linked Greenville, North Carolina, to Los Angeles for
three full days of telemedicine consults,'' he said.
fibre-optic super pipe, stretching 3,000 miles across
the country, provided a cyberspace portal connecting over
80 Los Angeles participants to ECU physician specialists.
flocked to ECU's telemedicine presentation, aptly titled
``Doc In A Box'', where they were able to experience the
world of telemedicine first-hand.
more adventurous attendees signed up for cross-country
demonstration consultations. ECU offered 15 different
medical specialities from which participants could choose.
Sign-up was available over the Internet via ECU's telemedicine
homepage or during the SIGGRAPH conference through PC
desktop tele-conferencing with North Carolina telemedicine
the time of the appointment, Los Angeles participants
entered the telemedicine exam room where a telemedicine
specialist presented the ``patient'' to a consulting physician
... three thousand fibre-optic miles away. Special telemedicine
diagnostic tools allowed ECU physicians to enter the flesh
and blood world of the participant.
with the telemedicine presenter, the doctor could direct
the use of water soakable cameras affixed with dermascope,
otoscope and opthalmoscope adapters.
an added bonus, telemedicine participants experienced
``the waiting room of the future.'' This high-tech waiting
room featured the latest in relaxation technology. Outside
the telemedicine exam room, participants could sink into
cocoon-like lounge environments and immerse themselves
in full-body audio, light, and vibration therapy.
demonstration also made telemedicine history as the first
coast-to-coast telemedicine link using Asynchronous Transfer
Mode (ATM) technology.
from ECU, other corporate partners on this team included
Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical
Center, Sprint Midatlantic Telecom, FORE Systems, Andries
Tek, Sun Microsystems, Parallax, Computer Innovations
Consulting, InSoft, Quantitative Medicine Inc, and the
North Carolina Health Care Information and Communications
more information, go to Telemed.