Private teleradiology system targets South America

December 11, 2000

One of the world's most ambitious private teleradiology systems is set to go online in Brazil early next year. The project, called RedeMD, will use the Internet to deliver medical diagnostic services to people who live in remote areas of the Amazon

One of the world's most ambitious private teleradiology systems is set to go online in Brazil early next year. The project, called RedeMD, will use the Internet to deliver medical diagnostic services to people who live in remote areas of the Amazon basin.

Within three years it could reach other South American countries and Mexico.

"In a country as large as Brazil, with its disparity of resources, teleradiology means access to medical services to millions of people who live in remote areas far from population centers," said Norbert Chien, chief technology officer at InfoCast LLC, a Portland, OR, communication technology firm.

InfoCast has teamed with Unidade Radiologica Paulista (URP), a well-known medical diagnostic clinic in Sao Paulo, on the project.

RedeMD, which offers dial-up, DSL, frame relay, and T1 connections to physicians, hospitals, clinics, medical schools, and government entities, will mean increased reach for medical centers, and thus increased business, Chien said. The program will also provide diagnostic services to transatlantic shipping vessels, a service not possible before the Internet.

RedeMD is modeled so that each member can provide consumer content and services, including continuing education and second opinions, according to Chien.

"Nothing is free in RedeMD and there is no advertisement in the main area," Chien said. "Advertising banners are available in the 'mall area,' where members can find promotional and other information about participating entities."

RedeMD will also launch a multimedia bulletin board, based on InfoCast's eTeam product, where members can solicit comments on clinical cases they post.

Data security will be handled by combinations of SSL (secure sockets layer, a Netscape protocol designed to provide secure communications over the Internet), digital signature, file encryption, and CRM number (Brazil's medical registration identification).

Beta testing is scheduled for the third week in January, at which time two radiology outpatient clinics, an endoscopy and a pathology clinic, and about 40 referring physicians will go online.

"We expect to get about 3000 physician members in the first six months," said Dr. Aron Belfer, head of the nuclear medicine department at URP and CEO of RedeMD.

Belfer anticipates that within three years, 30% of Brazil's 200,000 practicing physicians will join the program. Initially, RedeMD services will be restricted to the area surrounding Sao Paulo and will expand to Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Parana, and Rio Grande do Sul over the first three years.

RedeMD services will be expanded throughout Latin America to Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia beginning in year three, Chien said.