There are health leaders, information technologists and policy makers who believe information technology provides appropriate tools for the remote practice of medical care and clinical decision support. The University of Michigan Health System and the World Health Organization are co-sponsoring a scientific symposium, "State-of-the-Art Telemedicine/Telehealth: An International Perspective" in late August, in order to set the direction for the orderly deployment of telemedicine on a local, regional, national and international scale.

The symposium, to be held August 23-25, 2001 in Ann Arbor, Mich., will bring together national and international scholars and leaders in telemedicine/telehealth science, technology and clinical practice, as well as health policy and regulation. Presentations, panels and directed workshops will identify issues and propose strategies fundamental to the progress of telemedicine/telehealth, both nationally and internationally.

"The University of Michigan Health System is pleased to co-sponsor the symposium. Together, the scholars and leaders will propose a global research agenda and action plan that will set the strategic direction for telemedicine and telehealth for the next five to ten years. It is fitting to hold this world symposium in Ann Arbor, since the very first national meeting on telemedicine was held on this campus in 1974," said Rashid L. Bashshur, Ph.D., Director of Telemedicine at the UMHS and professor of health management policy at the School of Public Health at U-M.

A multi-national core of health, policy and technology experts will use the themes of systems of care, requirements, applications and acceptance to assess the status of scientific research to date and develop a global agenda for research, policy and action.

Telemedicine is a growing medical field allowing doctors in various locations to collaborate with other doctors on individual patient's care, diagnostic procedures and continuing education. Dramatic examples include the care of patients in Antarctica and outer space; however, hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, Europe and emerging nations are already benefiting from this enabling technology. Telehealth, which uses technology to bridge distances, is especially beneficial as a teaching and learning device.

Welcoming the delegates is Allen Lichter M.D., U-M dean of the medical school, the Honorable John J. H. Schwarz, M.D., Senator, State of Michigan, and James Haveman, Director, Michigan Department of Community Health. Keynote speaker for the Friday evening banquet will be Donald Lindberg, M.D., Director, National Library of Medicine.

Supporters of the symposium include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Library of Medicine, Office for the Advancement of Telemedicine, Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, and U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Organizational endorsements have been given by the American Telemedicine Association, Association of Telemedicine Service Providers, International Society for Telemedicine and the European Society for Telemedicine.

There are a limited number of spaces still available. To register for the symposium, call (734) 615-8278 or visit the website .