TELEMEDICINE GLOSSARY of Standards, Concepts, Technologies and Users; Third Edition, Luciano Beolchi, Editor; European Information Society, DG INFSO, © 2001, 364 pp.

Review by Del Meyer, MD

This glossary of Telemedicine was available to all registrants of the MEDINFO 2001 Conference in London. It contains 5500 entries and records from Canada, USA, UK and Israel, in addition to the 21 countries of the European Union that commissioned the work. The glossary includes single-line entries that may give the source of ubiquitous abbreviations, e.g. HISA - Healthcare Information System Architecture, as well as several paragraphs of explanation, e.g. QMR - Quick Medical Reference, that can assist internists in the diagnostic process. There are one to two succinct pages on the Telemedicine status of all countries, e.g. Greenlandís entry into digital medicine since 1994 includes teleradiology, videoconsultation and ultrasound, including echocardiography transmissions. Backed by government funding, digital medicine will increase from six to eight cities over the next two years. Legal and ethical matters are not an issue.

Common terms are included for completeness. Internet refers to the set of all computers in the world connected together by a variety of different wiring systems, administered by different authorities all speaking agreed-upon, high-level protocols over a TCP-IP lower-level protocol. Interlingua, an artificial language, is now used as an intermediate language for the computer translation of a natural language into another language. The number of abbreviations makes this glossary almost mandatory for communication, less you think they are speaking of medical terms. CRAM is part of the ministry of health in France, not what sophomores do; CREST is the Committee of Representatives for Science and Technology, not a rheumatologistís catchall.

Imaging departments have probably been transformed more than any other specialty in medicine due to the conversion of radiographic images into digital images. Pixels from the background can be subtracted from pixels creating the object being studied. This allows for an improved fused image that can be sent electronically. This not only improves the decision-making process, but also allows the image to be read remotely, whether at the central medical facility or at the radiologistís bedside monitor.

The glossary includes 24 comparative practice information tables that list healthcare expenditures (Japan 80%, EU 76%, USA 46% public funds), number of professionals, number of GPs, number of hospitals (UK has 1564, France 4181), owner of hospitals (UK 86% public 14% private; France 30% public, 70% private), size of hospitals, number of computerized work stations in hospitals, number of hospitals involved in video and internet services, as well as typical settings for GPs - office versus health centers.

This small glossary is packed with information that will become increasingly useful as we continue our transformation into the medical digital informatics age.