High-speed computer networks have the potential to transform the healthcare industry, according to Mike McGill, program director for Internet2's Health Sciences Initiative. Internet2's Health Network Initiative is a project to help medical researchers, educators, and clinicians see the possibilities of network applications in a medical setting.
McGill notes, for instance, that Internet2 has demonstrated the ability to put a patient up on a telepresence environment with a remote psychiatrist, which would go a long way toward fulfilling the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' mandate to provide care for wounded soldiers, who often reside in rural areas but are assigned psychiatrists based in urban areas. McGill points out that 120 of the 125 medical schools in the United States are Internet2 members, and he says that Internet2 is the designated national backbone for the Federal Communications Commission's Rural Health Care Pilot Program. Groups that the Health Network Initiative has spawned include those focusing on security, the technical aspects, network resources, and education.
McGill says the Obama administration is currently pushing "for electronic health records with very limited capability," and notes that the Health Sciences Initiative is "working on electronic health records that are backed up by lab tests and images, and that's a whole lot richer of an environment than just the textual record." Another project the initiative is focused on is the creation of a cancer biomedical informatics grid that is linking all U.S. cancer centers so that the research environment can be unified to exchange data. McGill describes the last mile and cultural challenges as the key networking challenges in terms of electronic health information sharing.
From Network World
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