Telehealth Demonstration Launched to Improve Cancer Research and Care
On March 1, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and NCI Director Andrew von Eschenbach launched a state-of-the-art, broadcast-quality telemedicine system at the King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC) in Amman, Jordan.
"For so many regions of the world, technology and telemedicine will mean the difference between life and death for many patients," Thompson said. "I applaud the continued collaboration among all the nations who are working together to make our world a healthier place for all of us."
The demonstration of the system in Amman involved a link to St. Luke's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, for a consultation on a patient at KHCC. The system will promote collaboration between cancer specialists, facilitate professional education and training, and permit consultation in cancer research protocols and patient care throughout Jordan and the Middle East, at selected sites in the United States as well as in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Other sites around the globe are being planned.
Developed by NCI and the Center for Information Technology, this telemedicine system, called KHCC TELESYNERGY®, combines cameras, microscopes, audio equipment, and a variety of peripheral devices to provide high-resolution display of images from multiple medical modalities in both real-time and store-and-forward modes. It enables scientists and clinicians at multiple laboratories and hospitals to interact simultaneously with one another.
The launch of this system is part of an ongoing collaborative partnership between KHCC and NCI that promotes work across borders to enhance cancer research, treatment, and care throughout the countries involved.
"Cancer knows no political or geographic borders. We must all work together to be able to share knowledge and expertise. NCI's ongoing collaboration with the King Hussein Cancer Center will help reduce the suffering and death for the afflicted people in Jordan and throughout the region," Dr. von Eschenbach said.
In September 2002, KHCC forged a cooperative agreement with NCI for the purpose of enhancing medical sciences and improving cancer patient care in Jordan and the entire Middle East region. In support of the agreement, Dr. Samir Khleif, a clinical oncologist at NCI, was named the current KHCC director. The KHCC TELESYNERGY system provides the means to achieve distance learning for medical professionals throughout a global network now under construction.
The system also represents a distinct improvement over standard videoconferencing technologies. In practical terms, it offers better image resolution, eliminates delays in communication between cancer professionals, and minimizes travel by patients and providers. On a larger scale, it promotes national and international expertise in cancer research and treatment by enhancing the adoption of uniform standards of care.
KHCC TELESYNERGY has many potential and varied uses, including: clinical case conferences, grand rounds, expert case review, multicenter radiotherapy planning, clinical management protocol development, distance learning, seminars, and patient screening for clinical trials.
In addition to standard teleconferencing capability, the new system allows for the transmission of high-quality diagnostic radiology and pathology images and for the discussion and remote manipulation of biopsy specimens.