Invited Symposium: Integrated Telematic Services and Communication Through Scientific IRC: Virtual User Communities of Biomedicine in UNInet


Section 1

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5


INABIS '98 Home Page Your Session Symposia & Poster Sessions Plenary Sessions Exhibitors' Foyer Personal Itinerary New Search

Application of International Virtual Communication in Real Time though Internet: The Case of Intensive Care Units

Contact Person: Santiago Herrero (herrero@sistelcom.com)


The application of Hospital Information System (HIS), it has supposed to computerize the hospital services. The intensive cares units (ICU) areplaces of high medical technology, they concentrate an important human capital, where critical patients, with illnesses potentially recoverable are admitted, and where the quick decisions are of capital importance. The tool to obtain more important medical information, for the intensivist has been the use of the MEDLINE, the primary medical database, but it was limited to the abstracts of the medical literature.

The development of the Internet as a vehicle for worldwide communication, and the emergence of the Word Wide Web (WWW) as a commonvehicle for communication have made instantaneous access to much of the entire body of medical information an exciting possibility. Atpresent-time, some scientific journals, including complete text, figures and tables, has become accesible electronically (1). More and bettercommunication tools they appear in the “global village”. The following step, would be the global communication, between intensivists of different hospital centers, as Internet users´ universal virtual communities. UniNet (http://bio.hgy.es/uninet) is a network based on university and compatible servers, which include all telematic services. One the Services of UniNet is a network of Scientific Internet Relay Chat (IRC). An open system permanently of communication, of low cost, based ontext-conference, between virtual communities interested in scientific, humanistic and educational activities, without language, racial, ethnic,ideology or cultural discrimination. The necessity of communication between intensivists as in other disciplines find in Internet a very accessible and dynamic instrument. At the present time it is practically impossible to find, an intensive care unit that doesn´t have available at least of a basic computer system. The intensive care departments are endowed with high technology, they have an computer support special for the critical patient´s pursuit, this support are integrated with other programs at different levels of information, including administration, clinical care, and research. Advances in telecommunications technology in the last decade have fostered the development of computer networks that allow access to vastamounts of information and services (2). Application of this technology as a tool, has the potential to markedly improve global health through better surveillance and information systems (3).

Back to the top.


Brief resume on tools in Internet

Recent advances in telecommunication technology have been enormous. The internet, is an informational tool of impressive proportions andcapabilities (4). The WWW, with its graphic multimedia interface (based on Hypertext Markup Language), using most standard web browsers, allows a quickaccess and connectivity to multiple databases, with extensive links between related content and multimedia elements. Internet, doesn´t suppose a bigger cost in harware resources, being within reach of domestic users. Most of programs to begin in the net are usually shareware and/or free.

Also, Internet essentially makes possible the communication in two methods. The indirect communication by the sending and receiving of messages in different ways. The electronic mail (E-mail), it is the most common tool in Internet and its utility in medicine is unquestionable. It allows the communication and cooperation among investigating doctors around the world, as well as the data and files transfers via newsgroups and or mailing list. At the present time, two broad strategies have emerged for cataloging the WWW: directories and search engines. These allow more efficientsearching of the WWW. Directories are analogous to yellow pages of the phone book. Search engines make no looking for words and thenautomatically create an index is searched for a particular word. Usually, search engines are nonespecific and produce voluminous results. Recently emerged a metasearch sites that use multiple search engiines optimized for specific types of searches (1). Along with the growth of the Internet, higher speed access methods are offering a range of new services such as the communication direct real-time video and voice communications (5). Audio and/or videoconference is more attractive, but complex from the technological point of view and much more expensive, when needingsophisticated hardware teams and even not perfectly developed at our level. However the diverse modalities of conference based in text (Talk,ICQ, IRC, Wintalk ...) are sufficiently accesibles. The better developed is Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

Internet Relay Chat: Resolving critical care problems.

The immediate text interchange between two or more intensivist in a own channel of Critical Care it combines advantages. The most varied questions of the intensive care medicine in a confered based in text, allows the own desinhibition of the interchange visual and oral, with the great advantage of maintaining the written text. The IRC facilitates the interchange of ICU documents, data files, digital images and sound on the net. Exchange of experiences between intensivists around the world, discussions of clinical cases, sending and receiving samples, or results from a multicenter studies and other projects, they are some of the practices solutions to solve the problems of the intensive cares units.

Who is UniNet.

UniNet is like a virtual city of knoweledge. The project is universal, thematic, liguistically, open all professions and humanistical in virtuals users communities (VUC) groups. UniNet was born in Unit Research of the General Hospital Yagüe of Burgos (Spain), at the end of 1996, under the auspices of the “Burgos por lainvestigación de la Salud” (fundation), in collaboration with other teaching and research centers of the world (6,7,8).

IRC servers in UniNet

At present time, there are 11 IRC operators to help people who need assistance in Uninet Network, are located in countries of Europe (Spain) and America (USA, Argentina, Colombia y Chile). In Spain the servers are: Research Unit of Hospital General Yagüe in Burgos (/server bio.hgy.es); Centro de Instrumentación Científica. University of Granada (/server cic.ugr.es); Master en Comercio Exterior y Finanzas Faculty of Economy. University of Barcelona (/server condor.eco.ub.es); Polytechnic University of Valencia (/server turia.omp.upv.es); Dpto. de Administracion de Empresas y Contabilidad. Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Industriales. University of Oviedo. Gijón (/server orgdex.etsiig.uniovi.es); Department of Chemistry, Autonomous University of Madrid (/server sara.qfa.uam.es); Colegio Mayor La Concepcion. Padres Franciscanos. Polytechnic University of Valencia (/server concepcion.upv.es). In America the servers are: Entre Ríos. Argentina (/server cetifac03.fi.uner.edu.ar); Horacio J. Peña. Argentina (/server irc.compendiun.com.ar); USTA Universidad Santo Tomas. Santa Fé de Bogota. Colombia (/server stomas.usta.edu.co); Departamento de Radiación Ultravioleta de la Universidad Austral de Chile (/server uv.uach.cl); Tyler. USA (/server tyler.isupport.com). The spanish language predominate widely in the network, but also speak currently english, portuguese, french, german and occasionally exoticlanguages. There are not discrimination of anyone languages neither races.

Acces to IRC channel of Intensive Care Medicine (#mintensiva)

The IRC network of UniNet marking differences from a conventional IRC network dedicated to activities to relax type. The IRC of UniNet hasexclusively scientific, educational and research characteristics. In order to access to channel of intensive care medicine in UniNet, it is neccesary to have a computer connected to Internet, with a Internet Relay Chat client software (Windows, Mcintosh, Unix, NeXTSTEP, Friend).Some programs are shareware and free and it would should provide auser-friendly interface for use with the Internet Relay Chat network. The IRC network is a virtual meeting place where people from all over the world can meet and talk. Connect to server (e.g./server bio.hgy.es) and when initiating theconnection (/join #mintensiva) there will appear a message of welcome,references to nick (personal identification in the network), and otherpoints of help. To participate in these discussions, it is necessary to be identified previously. This must only make once, since we take a registration of all the participants and of the nick that they habitually use in our meetings.

Intensive Care Medicine in UniNet Network. IRC Channel. The UNINET network counts already with a space, devoted to theintensivist; #MINTENSIVA (Topics is Medicina Intensiva y Emergencias) in http://cic.ugr.es/~intensiv, it is the channel of IRC offeree by the UniNet’servers. Here, the medical specialists of different intensivecare units of the world, are gathered and, given the interdisciplinary characteristic of the specialty, share experiences with other related specialties (anesthesists, emergencies, neurologists, neurosurgeons, general surgeons, trauma care, cardiologists, etc.). This channel, it is dedicated to the discussion of all the related with the patient in critical care units, although can include other topics on internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, neurology, and emergency medicine. Every Sunday of 22:00 at 00:00 (European hour) we meet to discuss a topic especially that it is resolved previously to inclination of theMINTENSIVA LISTSERV (MINTENSIVA@LISTSERV.REDIRIS.ES). The channel has four operators, which have among other missions, to make of moderators in those discussions. All discussions are later housed in the web page (http://cic.ugr.es/~intensiv) for their reading and detained observation (9). Recently (28,31 October 1.998) it has been possible to connect an intensive care medicine meeting among American and European colleagues and professionals (IXTAPA´98 http://www.facmed.unam.mx/ammcti/).(10) The celebration of the First Virtual Congress of Neurology (http://bio.hgy.es/neurocon) and the direct communication by IRC demonstrates an efficient tool for discussions of different scientific communications. In the next future, it is in project the Third Meeting of the Intensive Care Society of Asturian-Galician and a group of Portuguese intensivist (North), in Oviedo, Spain (June 28-29, 1.999), with pursuit in real time by IRC of the round tables and of the communications (The topic will be, The Intensive Care Medicine in the third millennium).

Back to the top.


The activities of the Intensive Care Medicine in Internet they go growing in importance. Multiple and wide resources exist in Internet, but the communication in real time there are emerging, and the text-conference it is a practical and novel resource for the intensivist. The communication system based on text-conference, better developed is Internet Relay Chat (IRC). UniNet offers telematic resources in a stable Network of scientific Interest, and #mintensiva is the IRC-channel of the intensivist.

Back to the top.


1. Kasting S, Wexler J. 1998. Bioinformatics: searching the Net. Semin Nucl Med. 1998 Apr; 28 (2): 177-87

2. Glowniak JV. 1995. Medical resources on the Internet. Ann Intern Med 1995 Jul 15 123:2 123-31

3. Satoh T, Takahashi K, Yahata K, Nakagawa S, Wojtczak A, Takizawa Y, Tajima N, Kohyama A, Akazawa S, Higashi T, Yamaguchi N, Sekikawa A. 1997. Application of Internet technology in public health. Nippon Koshu Eisei Zasshi 1997 Jul 44:7 518-22

4. Meissner-F; Vujicic-R. 1995. Critical care medicine in cyperspace: Internet resources and techniques for the intensivist. Lijec-Vjesn. 1995 Jun; 117 Suppl 2: 82-4

5. Glowniak J. 1998. History, structure, and function of the Internet. . Semin Nucl Med 1998 Apr 28:2 135-44

6. María Jesús Coma, Marc Hawa. 1997. IRIS-IRC Workgroup. Scientific-IRC proposal: RedUNI. RedIRIS Technical Conferences. Zaragoza, Spain, 18 November 1997

7. Coma del Corral MJ, Martín Alganza A, Hawa Attourah M. 1998. 'La comunicación en directo en Internet'. UniNet: La Red Universitaria de Servicios Telemáticos Integrados. Rev Neurol 1998; 26:992-5

8. Coma del Corral MJ, Martín Alganza A, Hawa Attourah M. 1.997. Integración de Recursos Telemáticos: UniNet y la Comunicación en directo en Internet. II Congreso Virtual hispanoamericano de Anatomía-Patológica.http://www.conganat.org/iicongreso/conf/022/index.html (12/06/98)

9. Resource:1.998 http://cic.ugr.es/~intensiv

10. Resource: 1.998 http://www.facmed.unam.mx/ammcti/

Back to the top.

Back to the top.

| Discussion Board | Previous Page | Your Symposium |
Herrero, S; Olais, C; Cerón, U; Diaz-Alersi, R; Varon, J; Marik, P; (1998). Application of International Virtual Communication in Real Time though Internet: The Case of Intensive Care Units. Presented at INABIS '98 - 5th Internet World Congress on Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, Canada, Dec 7-16th. Invited Symposium. Available at URL http://www.mcmaster.ca/inabis98/coma/olais0561/index.html
© 1998 Author(s) Hold Copyright