NIH News Release
National Library of Medicine

Monday, March 12, 2001

Contact: Robert Mehnert,
Kathleen Cravedi
(301) 496-6308

Technology is Shaping the Future of Health Care
"Telemedicine and Telecommunications: Options for the New Century"

(BETHESDA, MD.) — An ambulance in Maryland relays real time information and images to a trauma center while en route, allowing a stroke patient to receive vital care during a critical time known as the "golden hour." Parents of a premature baby in Boston are able to monitor their child from their home and have the same equipment used by the hospital to provide educational and emotional support to the parents following the baby's discharge. In California, consumers are able to quickly access their private medical records via a secure Web site.

These are just some of the latest developments in health care technology that researchers will be discussing at the National Library of Medicine's symposium, "Telemedicine and Telecommunications: Options for the New Century." The meeting will be held on March 13-14, 2001 at the Natcher Conference Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. More detailed information about the meeting is available at

NLM has funded 19 telemedicine projects since 1993, many of which will be highlighted at the conference. The purpose of the research is to evaluate the use of communications technology in the implementation and performance of telemedicine activities, and examine the impact of telemedicine on medical care in terms of cost, quality, and access.

"Through the National Telemedicine Project, we have found that the right information delivered at the appropriate time can have a positive effect on health outcomes. With the Next Generation Internet just around the corner, telemedicine is beginning to realize its potential," said Donald A. B. Lindberg, M.D., Director of the National Library of Medicine.

"In this age of the Internet and virtual reality, telemedicine and telecommunications have the potential to be part of nearly every aspect of health care — from consumer and provider education to the actual diagnosis and treatment of disease," said Dr. Michael Ackerman, head of NLM's Office of High Performance Computing and Communications and co-chair of the symposium.

Dr. Douglas Perednia, a medical internist and dermatologist, will be providing the keynote address at the meeting. His work began in the 1980's with research on the early detection of melanoma through computerized analysis of skin images. Dr. Perednia will discuss telehealth's slow migration into mainstream health care.

The National Library of Medicine began major funding for telemedicine-related activities in 1993 as part of the Federal High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) program. In 1996, NLM inaugurated the NLM National Telemedicine Initiative under the HPCC program. This conference brings together the NLM-funded investigators to discuss results obtained and lessons learned from their research projects.

The Library's activities in this field are continuing through the current funding of projects that assess the use of Next-Generation Internet technology for health applications, including telemedicine. Results from these studies will be reported in detail at a future time; however, general information is available at

Note to Reporters: An ambulance equipped to relay real-time information and images to a hospital trauma center while en route will be available for demonstration at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, March 13, 2001.

Members of the media are invited to attend. Press inquiries should be directed by phone to Kathy Cravedi or Bob Mehnert at 301 496-6308 or by e-mail to