Third Generation (3G) Cellular Networks in Telemedicine: Technological Overview, Applications, and Limitations

Third Generation (3G) Cellular Networks in Telemedicine: Technological Overview, Applications, and Limitations

Konstantinos Perakis (National Technical University of Athens, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-002-8.ch017
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The evolutions in the field of telecommunications technologies, with the robustness and the fidelity these new systems provide, have significantly contributed in the advancement and development in the field of medicine, and they have also brought forth the need for their utilisation in the healthcare sector. Thus, telemedicine and e-Health have clearly started to become an important issue for implementation, operational deployment of services and a promising market for industry. Recognizing this trend, its importance in the lives of citizens all around the globe and its contribution in the daily healthcare delivery by all actors involved in the procedure, the authors of this chapter attempt to familiarize the readers with the impact that high broadband wireless networks have upon telemedicine services and with the way they facilitate the secure transmission of vital information stemming from bandwidth demanding applications in real time. After providing the readers with an overview of telemedical services and commenting on how they can offer added value to existing healthcare services, they provide an analysis of the wireless infrastructure that has facilitated telemedical services over the years, and point out the significant role that the third generation telecommunications systems can play in the field. After that, follows an analysis of the range of new applications that can be supported by the 3G telecommunications infrastructure, and the related research that has taken place in the European level regarding the utilization of 3G networks for telemedical applications. However, 3G networks are not a panacea; for this reason the limitations of this infrastructure is also stressed out. The authors conclude by discussing whether 3G networks can prove to be an attractive solution for telemedical services to healthcare providers.
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The evolutions in the field of telecommunications technologies, with the robustness and the fidelity these new systems provide, have significantly contributed in the advancement and development in the field of medicine; they have also brought forth the need for their utilisation in the healthcare sector, a sector that is information intensive and knowledge demanding. Thus, e-Health solutions are of crucial importance (Olsson & Lymberis & Whitehouse, 2004, p.312); telemedicine and e-Health have clearly started to become an important issue for implementation, operational deployment of services and a promising market for industry (Wooton, 1999) (“EU2004a”, 2004). As had been forecasted a decade ago, healthcare institutions make extensive use of computer networks, mass storage devices, and sophisticated workstations at which humans and machines interact, assisted by advanced information processing tools and techniques of knowledge engineering, to achieve integration of multimodality multimedia, diagnostic data and expert medical knowledge (Orphanoudakis & Kaldoudi & Tsiknakis, 1996, 210). However, telemedicine is not a brand new service. On the contrary, telemedicine has been described from as early as as 1906, when W.Einthoven described the possibility of transmitting cardiogram information via telephone lines. This description became a reality in 1910 when S.G. Brown did actually transmit hearing sounds in London. In addition, a few years later, and more specifically in 1920, wireless communications were utilized in order to provide medical advice support in boats from the Norwegian hospital Haukeland.

Since 2004, the term eHealth aroused, defined by Eysenbach as: ‘‘eHealth is an emerging field in the intersection of medical informatics, public health and business, referring to health services and information delivered or enhanced through the Internet and related technologies. In a broader sense, the term characterises not only a technical development, but also a state-of-mind, a way of thinking, an attitude, and a commitment for networked, global thinking, to improve healthcare locally, regionally and worldwide by using information and communication technology’’(Eysenbach, 2001, e20), (Pagliari et al, 2005, e9). The term eHealth is supposed to be an overall term, or even better an “umbrella” term, including all aspects of Health Telematics.

Key Terms in this Chapter

GPRS: GPRS (short for general packet radio service) is a new non-voice, value added, high-speed, packet-switching technology for GSM networks. It facilitates sending and receiving small bursts of data, such as email and web browsing, as well as large volumes of data over a mobile telephone network. Its main innovations are that it is packet based, it increases data transmission speeds, and extends the Internet connection all the way to the mobile PC – the user no longer needs to dial up to a separate Internet Service Provider.

3G Systems: 3G systems can support higher data rates, thus allowing for a range of new applications. The integration of third generation telecommunication technologies in medicine could prove to be crucial in many aspects of remote provision of healthcare, which communication technologies used to-date (such as GSM or even GPRS) cannot support. Such systems can be used for tele-diagnosis, tele-monitoring and tele-consultation in various fields of medicine.

GSM: Global system for mobile communications (GSM) is the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world. Its promoter, the GSM Association, estimates that 82% of the global mobile market uses the standard. GSM is used by over 2 billion people across more than 212 countries and territories.Its ubiquity makes international roaming very common between mobile phone operators, enabling subscribers to use their phones in many parts of the world. GSM differs from its predecessors in that both signalling and speech channels are digital call quality, and thus is considered a second generation (2G) mobile phone system. This has also meant that data communication was easy to build into the system.

Telemedicine: Telemedicine is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where medical information is transferred via telephone, the Internet or other networks for the purpose of consulting, and sometimes remote medical procedures or examinations. Telemedicine may be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over the telephone, or as complex as using satellite technology and video-conferencing equipment to conduct a real-time consultation between medical specialists in two different countries. Telemedicine generally refers to the use of communications and information technologies for the delivery of clinical care.

UMTS: UMTS stands for universal mobile telecommunication System and constitutes Europe’s implementation of the 3G Telecommunications Systems. These new systems are a significant innovation over 2G and 2.5G systems because of their high operating flexibility, their ability to provide a wide range of applications and generally extend the services now provided to fixed networks users to mobile customers. Contrary to the current GSM systems, UMTS allows for broadband data communication to mobile units, packet-based transmission of text, digitized voice, video, and multimedia, offering a set of services to mobile computer and phone users no matter where they are located in the world.

Cellular Networks: A cellular network is a radio network made up of a number of radio cells (or just cells) each served by a fixed transmitter, known as a cell site or base station. These cells are used to cover different areas in order to provide radio coverage over a wider area than the area of one cell. Cellular networks are inherently asymmetric with a set of fixed main transceivers each serving a cell and a set of distributed (generally, but not always, mobile) transceivers which provide services to the network’s users. Cellular networks offer a number of advantages over alternative solutions like increased capacity, reduced power usage and better coverage.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Athina A. Lazakidou
Athina A. Lazakidou
Chapter 1
Sanjay P. Sood, Sandhya Keeroo, Victor W.A. Mbarika, Nupur Prakash, Ankur Seth
It is claimed that seeds of ‘medical informatics’ were sown in 1960s.From this time until the 1990s experts have described the discipline as... Sample PDF
Medical Informatics: Thirty Six Peer-Reviewed Shades
Chapter 2
D. John Doyle
E-health technology has started to become commonplace in the clinical world, with practitioners setting up their own Web sites to disseminate... Sample PDF
Medical Privacy and the Internet
Chapter 3
Ana Ferreira, Ricardo Cruz-Correia, Luís Antunes, David Chadwick
This chapter reports the authors’ experiences regarding security of the electronic medical record (EMR). Although the EMR objectives are to support... Sample PDF
Security of Electronic Medical Records
Chapter 4
György Surján
This chapter outlines the history of medical classifications in a general cultural context. Classification is a general phenomenon in science and... Sample PDF
The Cultural History of Medical Classifications
Chapter 5
Spyros Kitsiou
A fundamental requirement for achieving continuity of care is commonly accepted to be the integration and interoperability of different clinical... Sample PDF
Overview and Analysis of Electronic Health Record Standards
Chapter 6
Graham D. Bodie, Mohan J. Dutta, Ambar Basu
This chapter overviews an integrative model of e-health use that connects social disparities at the population level with individual characteristics... Sample PDF
The Integrative Model of E-Health Use
Chapter 7
Firat Kart
In this chapter we describe a distributed e-healthcare system that uses service oriented architecture as a basis for designing, implementing... Sample PDF
A Distributed E-Healthcare System
Chapter 8
Davor Mucic
In this chapter the author gives the short review over wide range of telepsychiatry applications. Furthermore, describes completely new and... Sample PDF
Telepsychiatry Within European E-Health
Chapter 9
Azizah Omar
In this chapter the author discusses several marketing principles and issues related to pitfalls and successes of Telehealth application in the case... Sample PDF
Pitfalls and Successes of a Web-Based Wellness Program
Chapter 10
Isabel de la Torre Díez
This chapter describes a Web -based application to store and exchange Electronic Health Records (EHR) and medical images in Ophthalmology... Sample PDF
A Web-Based Application to Exchange Electronic Health Records and Medical Images in Ophthalmology
Chapter 11
Mario Ceresa
This chapter mainly focuses on biomedical knowledge representation and its use in biomedicine. It first illustrates the existent more relevant... Sample PDF
Clinical and Biomolecular Ontologies for E-Health
Chapter 12
Roger Tait, Gerald Schaefer
The registration of corresponding patient volumes is often a pre-requisite for medical imaging tasks. Accurate alignment, however, usually results... Sample PDF
Distributed Medical Volume Registration
Chapter 13
Bill Ag. Drougas
Internet today is one of the most useful tools for information, education and business or entertainment. It is one of the modern technology tools... Sample PDF
Electronic Commerce for Health Products Services-Problems- Quality and Future
Chapter 14
Christos Bountis
This chapter introduces and reviews the concept of distributed knowledge management within the Healthcare environment and between Healthcare and... Sample PDF
Distributed Knowledge Management in Healthcare
Chapter 15
Jelena Vucetic
This paper describes business and technological challenges and solutions for a successful emergency telemedicine venture called MediComm. Its... Sample PDF
An Analysis of a Successful Emergency Telemedicine Venture
Chapter 16
Tammara Massey, Foad Dabiri, Roozbeh Jafari, Hyduke Noshadi, Philip Brisk, Majid Sarrafzadeh
This chapter introduces reconfigurable design techniques for light-weight medical systems. The research presented in this chapter demonstrates how... Sample PDF
Reconfigurable Embedded Medical Systems
Chapter 17
Konstantinos Perakis
The evolutions in the field of telecommunications technologies, with the robustness and the fidelity these new systems provide, have significantly... Sample PDF
Third Generation (3G) Cellular Networks in Telemedicine: Technological Overview, Applications, and Limitations
Chapter 18
Anton V. Vladzymyrskyy
This chapter introduces usage of telemedicine consultations in daily clinical practice. Author has describe process of teleconsultation, sample... Sample PDF
Telemedicine Consultations in Daily Clinical Practice: Systems, Organisation, Efficiency
Chapter 19
Cheon-Pyo Lee, J. P. Shim
Ubiquitous healthcare has become possible with rapid advances in information and communication technologies. Ubiquitous healthcare will bring about... Sample PDF
Ubiquitous Healthcare: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in Hospitals
Chapter 20
Rafael Capilla, Alfonso del Río, Miguel Ángel Valero, José Antonio Sánchez
This chapter deals with the conceptualization, design and implementation of an m-health solution to support ubiquitous, integrated and continuous... Sample PDF
Agile Patient Care with Distributed M-Health Applications
Chapter 21
Žilbert Tafa
This chapter describes the very actual issues on mobile health (M-H) and home care (H-C) telecare systems, reviewing state of the art as well as... Sample PDF
Mobile Health Applications and New Home Care Telecare Systems: Critical Engineering Issues
Chapter 22
José Antonio Seoane Fernández, Juan Luis Pérez Ordóñez, Noha Veiguela Blanco
This chapter presents an architecture for the integration of various algorithms for digital image processing (DIP) into web-based information... Sample PDF
A New System for the Integration of Medical Imaging Processing Algorithms into a Web Environment
Chapter 23
Daniel Welfer
This chapter discusses the concept of open-source picture archiving and communication systems (i.e. PACS), which are low cost, and easy to... Sample PDF
PACS Based on Open-Source Software Components
Chapter 24
Carolin Kaiser
This chapter introduces a case based reasoning (CBR) system for customizing treatment processes. The CBR system enables the generating of inpatient... Sample PDF
Case Based Reasoning for Customizing Treatment Processes
Chapter 25
I. Apostolakis, A. Chryssanthou, I. Varlamis
A significant issue in health related applications is protecting a patient’s profile data from unauthorized access. In the case of telemedicine... Sample PDF
A Holistic Perspective of Security in Health Related Virtual Communities
Chapter 26
Stamatia Ilioudi
This chapter aims to present various virtual learning environments for medical purposes in the world. More than ever, medical students and... Sample PDF
Virtual Learning Environments in Health
Chapter 27
Jelena Vucetic
In the last decade, advances in medicine, telemedicine, computer technologies, information systems, Web applications, robotics and... Sample PDF
Multimedia Distance Learning Solutions for Surgery
Chapter 28
Maria Andréia F. Rodrigues
This chapter shows how recent computing technologies such as collaborative virtual environments, high speed networks and mobile devices can be used... Sample PDF
Collaborative Virtual Environments and Multimedia Communication Technologies in Healthcare
Chapter 29
Tiffany A. Koszalka, Bradley Olson
A major issue facing medical education training programs across the USA is the recent advent of universal mandatory duty hour limitations and the... Sample PDF
Transforming a Pediatrics Lecture Series to Online Instruction
Chapter 30
Anastasia N. Kastania, Stelios Zimeras
In this chapter the authors investigate telehealth quality and reliability assurance. Various models and standards can be applied to assess software... Sample PDF
Quality and Reliability Aspects in Telehealth Systems
Chapter 31
Kleopatra Alamantariotou
Recent statistics show that the World Wide Web has now grown to over 100 million sites: a phenomenal expansion in only 15 years (Mulligan 2007). It... Sample PDF
Quality of Health Information on the Internet
Chapter 32
Kashif Hussain
This chapter provides a practical approach to computerized system validation (CSV) for the pharmaceutical organizations for the users dealing with... Sample PDF
A Practical Approach to Computerized System Validation
Chapter 33
Bill Ag Drougas, Maria Sevdali
Ergophysiology as a division of the Physiology and helps us today to understand what happens in the human body and movement and how we are able to... Sample PDF
Organization and Evaluation of Experimental Measurements of Ergophysiological Data with the Method of SF12V2
Chapter 34
Daniele Apiletti
Current advances in sensing devices and wireless technologies are providing a high opportunity for improving care quality and reducing the medical... Sample PDF
Ubiquitous Risk Analysis of Physiological Data
Chapter 35
Manfred Doepp
In our energy diagnostic department we noticed more and more cases with irrational stimulus-reaction- patterns and with a chaotic regulation state... Sample PDF
Chaotization of Human Systems by Technical Electromagnetic Fields
Chapter 36
Mary Schmeida, Ramona McNeal
This chapter is an analysis of demographic variables influencing policy outcomes with online health information searches in the general U.S. public.... Sample PDF
Demographic Differences in Telehealth Policy Outcomes
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