Despite a distance of more than a thousand miles, staff at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tenn., and St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, in Paterson, N.J., simultaneously reviewed diagnostic images from patients at the joint launch of the hospitals' new telemedicine equipment, making them the first two medical institutions in the country to employ this form of high-definition technology.
The high-definition telemedicine video conferencing equipment allows St. Jude and St. Joseph's to confer and view CT scans as well as MRI and nuclear medical imaging with more clarity than ever before and in real time. Both facilities received the equipment, made by Polycom, Inc., through a donation from Medical Missions for Children, a nonprofit organization that uses the latest advances in communication for the transfer of medical knowledge.
"We're on the forefront not only of medicine but of medical education," said St. Jude Chief Medical Officer Joseph Mirro, M.D. "This represents a change in the way we practice medicine. The change was driven by a couple of things - people and technology, which will aid in developing new knowledge for us to share. With this technology, we can disseminate more information and dramatically transform medicine."
The advance scan technology provides clear, 3-D imagery that allows clinicians to view both the anatomy and physiology of a tumor. Its high-definition transmission of images permits X-rays and 3-D recontructional images to be viewed in the detail in which they were recorded. In addition, it unites clinicians whose expertise could help in implementing treatment protocols that could save the life of a child across the country or even on another continent.
The connection between the sites is based on Internet Protocol, which uses infrastructure already in place to support the data networking needs of both organizations. The high-definition transmission of images uses InternetTwo as a means to secure high-bandwidth access between the two organizations. By harnessing these existing capabilities, there is no additional connection cost for either organization.
St. Jude will use the technology to collaborate with specialists at St. Joseph's on pediatric oncology cases that are atypical and require special attention or represent unique research cases. However, the technology connectivity will also be possible with other locations. The network design which is backward-compatible with traditional teleconferencing equipment, will allow units at St. Jude and St. Joseph's to connect virtually anywhere in the world.
"We are thrilled to see what high-definition telemedicine offers both institutions in terms of high-resolution technology to help children," Mirro said. "Children everywhere can benefit from this medical knowledge."