While UC Davis' Center for Virtual Care is a showcase of technological marvels, another vanguard
innovation lies underground, out of sight and out of day-to-day awareness.
"It's one of those things like electricity that you don't see the advantage of unless it's taken
away once you have it," says David Harry, assistant director of information services for UC Davis Medical
Center. That "thing" is the recently completed high-speed fiber-optic link, which carries all digital
communication between the UC Davis campus in Davis and UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. The link
allows sharing of data-intensive files at speeds more than 20 times faster than allowed by previous means.
Each fiber, about the diameter of a human hair, is capable of transmitting data via pulses of light at
a clip of up to 10 gigabits per second. This enables the transmission of complete medical records complete
with charts, MRIs, ultrasound studies and angiograms in moments.
While many on both campuses see the implications for research and patient care, Peter Rutan, Center for
Virtual Care training coordinator, is already dreaming of the connection's applications to distance learning
and how he can bring the rich resources of the center to many students.
One way he plans to use the connection is to have a few residents or students work directly on Stan,
the center's patient simulator, with an instructor in Sacramento, while a whole class can become involved,
via television cameras and monitors, from their classroom 20 miles away in Davis."
Students can instruct others to administer care to Stan such as injecting a drug they just learned
about and observe the effects," said Rutan. "We can instantly supply whatever they would need in the
real world, including CTs or MRIs, to get real-time feedback on the impacts of their actions. These applications
offer a real transformation in medical education."