Through our existing partnership, our research program has leveraged the benefits of proton radiation therapy through the development a robust telemedicine solution for remote proton therapy planning. Our proof-of-concept system provides a cost-effective and functional videoconferencing desktop platform for both ad-hoc and scheduled communication, as well as a robust interface for data collaboration (application-sharing of a commercial radiation treatment planning package). Over a 2-year period, our evaluation of this model has highlighted the inherent benefits of this affordable remote treatment planning solution, i.e., (1) giving physicians the ability to remotely participate in refining and generating proton therapy plans via a secure and robust Internet2 VPN tunnel to the University of Pennsylvania's commercial proton treatment planning package; (2) allowing cancer-care providers sending patients to a proton treatment facility to participate in treatment planning decisions by enabling referring or accepting providers to initiate ad-hoc, point-to-point communication with their counterparts to clarify and resolve issues arising before or during patient treatment; and thus (3) allowing stewards of an otherwise highly centralized resource the ability to encourage wider participation with and referrals to sparsely located proton treatment centers by adapting telemedicine techniques that allow sharing of proton therapy planning services. We believe that our elegant and very affordable approach to remote proton treatment planning opens the door to greater worldwide referrals to the scarce resource of proton treatment units and wide-ranging scientific collaboration, both nationally and internationally.
- Business administration/economics
- Distance learning
- Remote treatment planning