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Remote Adjustment of Heart Electrostimulators via the Internet

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CN: Presentation of CARNet's Project Telemedicine in Heart Electrostimulation (1 July 1998)

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On 15 June 1999 CARNet held a presentation of results of its pilot project entitled Telemedicine in Heart Electrostimulation (TelESS). At the occasion the world's first remote adjustment of a patient's heart electrostimulator was conducted over the Internet.

The presentation of CARNet's TelESS project held at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Zagreb included remote adjustment of a patient's heart electrostimulator over the Internet. During the procedure the patient whose heart electrostimulator was being adjusted was located at Zagreb's Medical School, while all those invited were allowed to follow the procedure via a videoconferencing system.

The presented remote adjustment of a patient's heart electrostimulator over the Internet was worldwide the first medical procedure of its kind. The procedure was performed on a seventy-one year old patient who has previously given his written consent to the method. Permission was also granted by the Ethics Commission of Zagreb's Medical School.

Zoran Vlah, Director of CARNet's Pilot Projects Division::

The application of information technology in medicine is a common trend in medicine, as well as a field of intensive research. So far, CARNet has initiated a number of projects related to the field of medicine.

The now successfully accomplished pilot-project Telemedicine in Heart Electrostimulation, was started in 1996 as a result of an effort to actively seek new knowledge in the field of networking technology and make use of in medicine. The aim of the project was to research possibilities of the use of Internet in the remote control and adjustment of heart electrostimulators.

The telemedical adjustment of the patient's heart electrostimulator was commented by Professor Vladimir Goldner, Special Advisor to the Project, and Mr. Božidar Ferek-Petric, Deputy Project Manager. Assisting the procedure at the Medical School was the medical team of Zagreb's Rebro University Teaching Hospital led by Davor Kosi, Md. Finally, after the successfully conducted procedure, Professor Ivo Cikes, Head of the Cardiovascular Department and Project Manager, also addressed the audience.

The introduction of this method into standard medical procedures brings a number of benefits for patients with implanted heart electrostimulators. Using the Internet to secure a rapid transfer of data to and from a remote patient provides a means to allow checkups to be conducted at local clinics, posing no strain or financial burden on the patient. The use of this method will no longer require the patient to travel to remote electrostimulation centers for control and adjustment of the heart electrostimulator - a procedure taking only minutes.

The Telemedicine in Heart Electrostimulation (TelESS) project, resulting in the first remote adjustment of a heart electrostimulator over the Internet, is a joint project of CARNet and the Medical School of the University of Zagreb, launched in July 1996. At the presentation of the project's preliminary results in 1998 (see CN, 1 July 1998) the remote adjustment of a heart electrostimulator over the Internet was conducted on an electrostimulator which was not implanted in a patient. On that occasion, CARNet News have published an interview with Mr. Bozidar Ferek-Petric, the project's Deputy Manager.

To learn more about this event and the TelESS project, see CARNet's Web pages at http://www.carnet.hr/projects/telessjw/indextm2.htm