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M. D. Anderson Opens SBC Telehealth Center

M. D. Anderson Opens SBC Telehealth Center
Distance Consulting, Educational Opportunities Extend the M. D. Anderson Model of Cancer Care Beyond Houston
M. D. Anderson News Release 10/22/02

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center – with the generous support of the SBC Foundation – has opened the SBC Telehealth Center, enhancing one of the largest telemedicine oncology programs in the world.

SBC Foundation, SBC's philanthropic arm, awarded M. D. Anderson a $2 million grant in 1999 for the development of the center, a virtual electronic "front door" to the cancer center. Today (Oct. 22), the center was officially opened, and the first telemedicine consultation conducted using this facility.

Nearly 1,500 clinical telemedicine activities are conducted at M. D. Anderson annually, making it one of the largest telemedicine oncology programs in the world, said Dr. Margaret Kripke, executive vice president and chief academic officer. With the opening of the new center, there will be even more innovative tools and devices to bridge distance and access barriers, she continued.

The new SBC Telehealth Center, located in the Faculty Center on the campus of M. D. Anderson, is 3,000 square feet of space packed with the newest in audiovisual and telecommunications technology. Comprised of three major areas, the center includes a 65-seat classroom, the telemedicine room and a conference room. Across the street, in M. D. Anderson’s main clinical facility, is the newly-updated SBC Auditorium that seats 300 people for lectures and educational presentations.

The new center will be M. D. Anderson’s hub for conducting long-distance multidisciplinary patient conferences, educational programs for patients and health care professionals and research exchanges with M. D. Anderson outreach partners and other institutions across the nation and globe.

The new SBC Telehealth Center also is equipped to broadcast events live to the Internet, or be captured on an Internet video server and made available on demand to audiences around the world.

"Two of M. D. Anderson's hallmarks are the multidisciplinary approach to care and its dedication to research and education. This new telehealth facility advances these mission areas and moves M. D. Anderson closer to its goal of eliminating cancer," said Dr. John Mendelsohn, president of M. D. Anderson. "We utilize technology every day at M. D. Anderson to screen for, diagnose and treat cancer, and with the help of SBC, we are able to use technology to extend our reach even further and ultimately, touch more patients."

"The SBC Telehealth Center at M. D. Anderson demonstrates the SBC Foundation's support of technology programs that benefit communities through the use of telemedicine and distance learning, resulting in more effective and immediate communication with patients, physicians and researchers," said Laura Sanford, president of the SBC Foundation. "We are pleased that our contribution will have a meaningful impact on M. D. Anderson’s commitment to a future free from cancer."

The SBC Telehealth Center will host frequent multidisciplinary, long-distance conferences that replicate those conducted between physicians almost every day in clinics at M. D. Anderson. At the consultations, teams of surgeons, radiation therapists, oncologists, pathologists and radiologists are presented patient cases for discussion. Using electronic diagnostic images, pathology slides and other data from a patient's medical record, the expanded team assesses the best possible course of treatment. With the telemedicine facilities, teams at M. D. Anderson affiliates in Orlando, Florida and Madrid, Spain, as well as other locations, will be able to offer patients even broader multidisciplinary care by bringing in experts from M. D. Anderson in Houston.

"As an industry leader in mainstreaming broadband technology, SBC understands the importance of high-speed Internet access in bringing new health technologies, including telemedicine, to greater numbers of people," said David Huntley, vice president of external affairs for SBC Southwestern Bell. "Just as SBC is committed to making broadband available to as many customers as possible, the company is proud and excited to partner with M. D. Anderson in bringing state-of-the-art telemedicine technology to the world-wide medical community," Huntley said.

In addition to the distance consultations, the SBC Telehealth Center will offer the technology for videoconferencing research meetings, lectures, training sessions, professional presentations and patient education classes. A distance education area will provide interactive television facilities for teaching graduate level courses in biomedical sciences from The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

"Education is fundamental to the M. D. Anderson mission to eliminate cancer, and these new facilities extend our reach even further," said Dr. Stephen Tomasovic, vice president for educational programs. "Plus, having the facilities on campus, in the same building as our faculty offices, we can accomplish the same goal while our educators save travel time and time away from patients."

From September 1, 2001 to August 31, 2002, M. D. Anderson held more than 2,100 hours of videoconferencing activities, including nearly 200 hours of clinical telemedicine conferences and approximately 1,900 hours of distance education classes and administrative conferences, said Larry Jones, director of telehealth services. M. D. Anderson has operated its clinical telemedicine program since 1994.

The SBC Foundation is the charitable giving arm of SBC Communications Inc. and its family of companies. In 2001, SBC, through Foundation and corporate giving, donated nearly $99 million to support efforts that enrich and strengthen diverse communities nationwide. The Foundation places primary emphasis on supporting programs that help increase access to information technologies; broaden technology training and professional skills development; and effectively integrate new technologies to enhance education and economic development – especially for underserved populations. SBC has been named among America's Most Generous Companies for two consecutive years by Worth magazine (2000 & 2001).


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center