Telecommunication is useful, but it is not widely accepted in medicine, partly because image quality is often inadequate for medical use and partly because an initial investment in special equipment is necessary. We conducted live multi-station teleconferences at the First Biennial Congress of the Asian-Pacific Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association (APHPBA), using a new telemedicine system which transmits original-quality images in a simple and economical manner. The venue in Japan was linked to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Manila for an endoscopic surgery session, and to Seoul, Beijing, and Taipei for a pancreas transplant session. A digital video transport system (DVTS), which transforms digital video signals directly to Internet protocol, was set up at each station. The presentations were smooth and clear, and were followed by interactive discussion between the four stations for each session. Although our system requires a broadband Internet connection of at least 30 Mbps, a high-speed academic network has been established already in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region and is readily used for research and educational purposes. Application of this high-performance but user-friendly system can make teleconferences more useful and exciting. Telecommunication based on DVTS and a high-speed academic network should revolutionize the future of such conferences as the APHPBA, as well as those in other fields and locations.
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