GTE conducts ground-breaking simultaneous

GTE conducts ground-breaking simultaneous medical diagnostic demonstration spanning three continents and utilizing video conferencing

January 23, 1996

IRVING, Texas -- GTE today linked physicians around the globe throughinteractive video conferencing to demonstrate how telecommunications can deliver health care to destinations thousands of miles apart.

During the telemedicine demonstration, physicians in Canada, Venezuela and Hawaii diagnosed a patient in the Dominican Republic, using video transmitted over existing telecommunications networks.

"The advances in telecommunications technology can benefit our customers in all parts of the world. Through this video diagnostic demonstration, GTE shows how that technology can bring telemedicine into remote areas, whether in the United States or abroad," said Michael McDonough, GTE Telephone Operations president of Business Markets.

Nine sites participated in the video conference, which was staged in conjunction with the 17th annual Pacific Telecommunications Conference (PTC) in Hawaii. The sites were Caracas, Venezuela; Dallas (two sites); Honolulu (two sites); Rimouski, Canada; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Tampa, Fla.; and Thousand Oaks, Calif.

During the remote medical diagnosis demonstration, Dr. Edwardo Mejia Jabid examined the eardrum of a patient in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Using an ENT (ear, nose, throat) videoscope made by Andreis Tek, Inc., he relayed video images of the patient's eardrum to colleagues in Caracas and Rimouski. Working together, the physicians diagnosed the condition as a perforated eardrum, although they were continents apart.

To confirm their diagnosis, Dr. Jabid called on Dana Ichinotsubo in Honolulu to display information about perforated eardrums on the TEACH system, a telemedicine and teaching program used in Hawaii. The patient also expressed concern about a skin lesion on his chest. Using a video dermascope, the physician examined the layers of skin in the lesion while the physicians in Venezuela and Canada watched through video. The three concurred that the area was not malignant. For comparison, Ichinotsubo displayed an example of malignant mole through the TEACH application.

"GTE's technology represents the critical link, in effect an electronic umbilical cord, to improve the access, quality and cost effectiveness of health care," said Dr. Jay Sanders, a professor of medicine who participated in the video conference from Dallas. "A statewide telemedicine network will allow any patient in the state to be examined by any physician in that state regardless of the distance between them."

Sanders is the director of the Telemedicine Center at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and helped develop Georgia's statewide telemedicine system to interface with rural hospitals, public health facilities, correctional institutions and ambulatory health centers.

Telecommunications helps train physicians

The video conference also included an expanded demonstration of TEACH (Tele-Education Applied to Community Health), which is used to help train intern physicians in Hawaii. The University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) developed the application, with support from GTE Hawaiian Tel, to close the distances between the Hawaiian islands and still provide educational services to physicians in training and communities in general. In addition to giving medical information, TEACH uses video conferencing for distance-learning applications.

GTE Hawaiian Tel and JABSOM are currently expanding TEACH to give practicing physicians in Hawaii a comprehensive telecommunications capability to improve patient care.

GTE Corporation is the fourth-largest publicly owned telecommunications company in the world. GTE Telephone Operations is the largest U.S.-based local telephone company, providing voice, video, and data products and services through more than 22 million access lines in portions of the United States, Canada, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific.