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Advanced networks and computing in healthcare.
As computing and network capabilities continue to rise, it becomes increasingly important to understand the varied applications for using them to provide healthcare. The objective of this review is to identify key characteristics and attributes of healthcare applications involving the use of advanced computing and communication technologies, drawing upon 45 research and development projects in telemedicine and other aspects of healthcare funded by the National Library of Medicine over the past 12 years. Only projects publishing in the professional literature were included in the review. Four projects did not publish beyond their final reports. In addition, the authors drew on their first-hand experience as project officers, reviewers and monitors of the work. Major themes in the corpus of work were identified, characterizing key attributes of advanced computing and network applications in healthcare. Advanced computing and network applications are relevant to a range of healthcare settings and specialties, but they are most appropriate for solving a narrower range of problems in each. Healthcare projects undertaken primarily to explore potential have also demonstrated effectiveness and depend on the quality of network service as much as bandwidth. Many applications are enabling, making it possible to provide service or conduct research that previously was not possible or to achieve outcomes in addition to those for which projects were undertaken. Most notable are advances in imaging and visualization, collaboration and sense of presence, and mobility in communication and information-resource use.