Telemedicine project in Asia-Pacific: Changing needs and current problems

Remote medical education is technically challenging because transmitted materials are often moving images whose quality must be perfectly preserved, preferably with lowest cost for developing countries. When we started the activity in 2003 between Japan and Korea, digital video transport system (DVTS) coupled with research and education network (REN) was the only option which could satisfy doctors both in quality and cost. It greatly stimulated telemedicine and our activities expanded to 52 countries in Asia and beyond, but now, the situation has changed. There are two more systems that meet the requirements of telemedicine; high-definition H323 and Vidyo. In addition, these two videoconference systems are getting more popular. In 2014, of all the telemedicine activities carried out by our community, over 59% used Vidyo and 23% used high-definition H323. One decade ago, only academic hospitals which were connected to REN could join us, because DVTS required a minimum guaranteed bandwidth of 30Mbps. The reason for the greater uses of commercial videoconference system is that many hospitals are not connected to the RENs but want to participate in telemedicine. Furthermore, with the advancement in videocoding, the videoconference systems are providing much better pictures than previously. There is no doubt that REN can provide better quality pictures and the network is more stable. However, one of the shortcomings of RENs is the connectivity to hospitals. In the near future we will continue to see telemedicine running across a mix of REN and commercial network.

Speakers

Authors

  • Shuji Shimizu
  • Kuriko Kudo
  • Yasuaki Antoku
  • Naoki Nakashima

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