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MediLink -- A SmartCard-Assisted Wearable Data Acquisition and Communication System for Emergency and Mobile Medicine

Tamara Koval, MD
Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA


Martin Dudziak, PhD
Silicon Dominion Computing, Inc., Richmond, VA


The MediLink architecture consists of a smartcard-assisted wearable PC with wireless intranet connectivity and multiple modes of speech and image processing. It was developed as a solution to problems faced within a broad range of medical and health care functions where mobile and hands-free or limited-access systems are preferred. In our research program, originating in 1995 with web-based medical information databases and online dialogues serving an international community (CommonHealthNet), we began a broad study of what was functionally and economically practical for EMT and ER physicians and staff. We also extended the study to non-emergency bedside and at-home procedures, focusing upon Ob/Gyn and cardiology applications because of investigator expertise and the potentials for commonplace situations in prenatal care to evolve into critical-care and multiple-practitioner scenarios. The results of physician, nursing, administrator, and patient surveys, coupled with the rapid maturity of both the Internet and compact wearable PC systems, resulted in the MediLink design, currently in the implementation phase, using a hardware and operating system configuration, the TransPAC wearable PC, that is in production. Structured and noise-resistant speech-to-text interfacing enables hands-free selection of options, data access to CD-ROM or internet-accessible databases or URLs. The use of a web browser-like display, accessible through either a flat panel, standard, or headset monitor, along with optional CD-ROM, gives the beltpack computer the functions of a complete desktop including card interfaces for wireless intranet connectivity and a secure smartcard with 16-bit microprocessor and 64K memory. Battery life ranges from 2.5 to 6 hours depending upon optional battery packs. The base unit weighs under 2 lbs. and is worn around the waist with minimal interference to movement or handling of patients of equipment. The ICC6.1 card acts to provide user access control for security, user custom configuration of applications and display and vocabulary, and memory to diminish the need for PC-server communications while in an active session. MediLink also accommodates digital sketch/notepad devices such as the CrossPad, allowing users to make use of conventional paper writing for ad hoc notes, forms, and drawings. MediLink was designed by physicians and biomedical engineers in order to address the results of a study showing significant resistance in the health care community to a variety of so-called PDA (personal digital assistant) and HPC (handheld personal computer) devices for medical professionals. Concerns over the value-added functions of these mobile devices, learning curves, security, and reliability led to the introduction of the microprocessor-based and self-encrypting smartcard technology for reducing risk on several counts while incorporation of multiple display devices and the lightweight beltpack design added to the functions that are not available with handheld or notebook-type devices.

Keywords: telemedicine, wearable PC, mobile computing, smart card, speech, image compression, pattern recognition, emergency, EMR, wireless

Contact Person: M. Dudziak,,(804) 329-8704, fax (804) 329-1454

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