Telemedicine--the use of computers and information networks to allow health-care workers to interview and examine patients, and view test results and diagnostic images at a distance--is a rapidly developing field. It can greatly expand the scope and quality of health care for patients in rural locations, maximize the effectiveness of health-care professionals, and help hold down health-care costs.
As the capabilities and use of telemedicine have grown, however, a number of potential standards issues have arisen that could hamper its broader use. Interoperability of telemedicine equipment from different vendors, for example, is an issue if telemedicine services need to cross organizational boundaries. Accurate transmittal and rendering of images--including color fidelity and preservation of detail--are issues in fields as diverse as radiology, dermatology, neurology and even psychology.
The Dec. 7 workshop on Imaging Metrology for Telemedicine at The Natcher Center (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.) will bring together telemedicine practitioners, researchers and equipment suppliers to discuss the need for standards, protocols and test methods to assure that telemedicine images are accurate from acquisition to possible data compression, transmittal, storage and display. The workshop also will consider the need to develop an industry-based standards structure to assure that telemedicine systems are interoperable.
The workshop is one of a series on the U.S. Measurement System (USMS) sponsored by NIST to assess and document the nation's priority measurement and measurement-related standards needs for technological innovation, U.S. industrial competitiveness, safety and security, and quality of life. Registration information is available at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/confpage/051207.htm.