Distance Medicine Technologies: ITMO’s Collaborations With Federal Almazov North-West Research Center

This year, the first Master's students joined ITMO's Computational Biomedicine program. Specialists from Federal Almazov North-West Research Center gave them a tour so these IT students could learn more about the technologies used in modern medicine and become the ones who will create new ones for the physician's needs in the future.

The Computational Biomedicine Master's program is arrangedby the Department of High-Performance Computing in collaboration with Federal Almazov North-West Research Center, which also works with ITMO on telemedicine technologies. Telemedicine is an advanced interdisciplinary field that introduces tools from the informational technology, physics and engineering fields into medical practice. For instance, in collaboration with Federal Almazov North-West Research Center ITMO's specialists developed a system for optimizing the routes of ambulances, and continue to create different decision support systems that will help physicians inall stages of their work. The tour will help students from the Department of High-Performance Computing learn of the presently used solutions and decide on the directions they can work in.

Federal Almazov North-West Research Center isone of the most important medical and research institutions in Russia, and many regional hospitals lack specialists at this level of qualification. For more than 30 years, the center provides services of distant consultation and diagnosing. The latest step in this direction was the founding of the Federal Telemedicine Consulting Center in April, 2016, notes the center's Head, Vadim Gilvanov.

Federal Almazov North-West Research Center

«We offer consultation services here at the center — cardiology, endocrinology, pediatrics, and many other areas. The system works as follows: medics from regions send us information on the patient, then we pass it to a specialist, and he gives his conclusion. We can also call the specialist from the institution that's asked for our help and hear him out or ask for additional data online», — shares Mr. Gilvanov.

All incoming requests for consultations are sent in via the «Minzdrav Portal» system. There are three kinds of these requests: urgent, that have to be processed in thirty minutes to three hours time, emergency, that are to be answered within the space of 24 hours, and planned — those may take up to 4 days time. Not only image scans or documents, but also videos of examinations can be added to the request. The patient's agreement on personal data processing is mandatory.

«There are several ways to go about the consultation: the consulting physician can download them on his PC and work from his workplace or come to our center and work here — we've got everything necessary for that. If he wants to discuss anything with colleagues, we organize a conference. Also, we have an opportunity to conduct an ultrasound distantly: the assistant carries out the examination of the patient and our physician comments on the results from the Center», — explains the Center's head.

According to Dmitry Kurapeev, Head of the Department of Information Technologies of the Federal Almazov North-West Research Center, 21 federal centers and the so-called third-level centers (multi-field hospitals, those are mostly the ones who order such consultations) are included in the telemedicinal network. Upon joining the network, federal centers declare their competencies, so that a regional clinic can choose the institution they need and send a request. Federal Almazov North-West Research Center conducts from 250 to 300 distant consultations using telemedicine technologies, and in more than a half of the cases they move the patients to the Center.

«We've totally excluded the possibility of a wrong diagnosis, as we are responsible for completeness of the document package, and we check it with the regional clinic before we give it to the attending physician (they might have sent a bad ECG scan or an unclear ultrasound image), — underlines Vadim Gilvanov. — If we have any doubts, we take the patients to our center».

Apart from consultations, the Almazov Center also translates webinars, tele-lectures and master-classes right from the surgery. All Center's solutions are based on technologies from Cisco Systems company, the video communication uses the Cisco WebEx cloud platform. Dmitry Kupareev explained that most medical institutions «replicate» their hardware-software complexes: they buy several sets and install them in specificplaces. At the Almazov Center, the specialists use a different approach: they try to make the advanced technologies open to as many physicians as possible.

«More than three thousand physicians work for the Center at 5 different places in the city. We can't call everyone to work at the Center from a computer connected to the telemedicinal network. But by using program tolls, we can grant access to the „Mindzdrav Portal“ and the network from any computer, which solves the problem», — explains Dmitry Kupareev.

At the Federal Almazov North-West Research Center there is also an educational simulations center that allows the physicians to study, develop their manual skills and improve their qualification level. Different equipment used at the center includes a childbirth simulator for imitating physiologic or pathologic delivery, robotized infant simulators with different pathologies, different mannequins of adults for training emergency treatment and procedures. The center's Head Sergey Sosin notes that modern simulators offer highly realistic simulations, which is really important, as it gives the necessary skills and mental training before treating real people. The IT students from ITMO university can study these devices from the point of view of software development to later propose their own solutions.

«In Europe and the USA a specialist without a physician's certificate can't work with living patients, which makes studying harder — it's hard to learn to be a doctor if you don't have access to patients. Hence, simulations are well-developed there. Still, training with simulators is now introduced in our programs as well. As you know, every five years physicians have to prolong their certificates, or they lose their right for medical practice. What's more, the system of continuous education continues to develop, and different educational modules that include working with simulations are included there as well», — shares Sergey Sosin.

You can learn more about the education and research of the Computational Biomedicine Program during the Open Day at the School of Translational Information Technologies. The next one will be on October 2, 2016.

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