Nation's First Transcontinental Telemedicine Service Links Florida Patients With UCLA Specialists

March 21, 1995
LOS ANGELES, California/MELBOURNE, Florida -- Medical and telecommunications experts have initiated the nation's first transcontinental telemedicine service -- transmitting patients' medical images from a private radiology center in Central Florida to specialists at UCLA Medical Center 2,500 miles away in California.

The unique service--resulting from an agreement between UCLA, Harris Corporation, and the Medical Technology Transfer Corporation (MTTCorp.)--uses recent advances in telemedicine technology to enhance the quality, reduce the cost and expand access to specialized health care expertise. The service could serve as a pilot for similar centers around the world.

Radiologists and technologists at the independent, privately owned University Center Imaging facility in Melbourne, Florida are utilizing a system designed by Harris to transmit digital medical images such as MRIs, Ultrasounds, CT and Nuclear Scans and others via an MCI fiber optic link inas little as two minutes to the 45 radiologists at the UCLA Department of Radiological Sciences in Los Angeles. The UCLA radiologists, who specialize in 14 subspecialties, then view the images on state-of-the-art viewing stations and report their "second opinions" back to University Center Imaging's radiologist.

"Recent advances in technology enable us to accurately evaluate medical images from a patient 2,500 miles away, 6,000 miles away or even halfway around the world," said Dr. Richard J. Steckel, Chair of UCLA's Departmentof Radiological Sciences. "We're now able to visualize detailed medical images and render expert medical consultation as if the patient were right in the next room."

The service will be utilized by Harris' 9,000 Central Florida employees, along with their families and other area residents.

"This unique service enables us to provide our employees with world-class UCLA radiology consultation service right here in Florida," said Nick Heldreth, vice president of human resources at Harris. "The center represents a major step in Harris' effort to provide our employees with the highest quality care, while controlling the cost of health care and protecting our employees' benefits."

Utilizing the University Center Imaging's services, Harris' radiology costs, which have been growing at nearly 20 percent a year, will be fixed at a flat rate for the next seven years -- stopping the spiraling growth in radiology costs for the company and its employees, which has been placing an increasing strain on employee benefits.

"The constant increases in medical costs are placing a tremendous strain on today's healthcare system. This center demonstrates that people can receive top-quality health care at competitive costs regardless of where they live," said Dr. Frank Bright, president and CEO of MTTCorp.

MTTCorp., an independent, private medical management company, owns and operates the University Center Imaging facility in Melbourne. The company also plans to create similar radiology centers in the U.S. and overseas.

The UCLA Department of Radiological Sciences is part of the UCLA Medical Center, which is consistently ranked as one of the premier hospitals in the world. It provides both routine and specialized care for patients from around the world. The medical center is the primary teaching hospital for UCLA School of Medicine and has more than 1,400 full-time faculty physicians and nearly 800 residents, interns and fellows.

Harris Corporation, with worldwide sales of more than $3.3 billion, is focused on four main businesses: electronic systems, communications, semiconductors, and Lanier Worldwide office equipment.

Harris is active in a broad range of healthcare-related technologies and services. In addition to designing and integrating the University Center Imaging facility's telecommunications system, Harris provides semiconductors that are used in heart pacemakers and diagnostic imaging equipment; Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) that display, store and retrieve digital diagnostic images; Community Healthcare Information Networks (CHINs)that enable healthcare organizations to integrate equipment and systems; anda full range of medical dictation and transcription services.

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EDITORS NOTE: For further information, contact Tom Hausman, Harris Corporation, 321-727-9131, or Simi Singer, UCLA, at 310-206-1960.