Project TOUCH (Telehealth Outreach for Unified Community Health; http://hsc.unm.edu/touch) investigates the feasibility of using advanced technologies to enhance education in an innovative problem-based learning format currently being used in medical school curricula, applying specific clinical case models, and deploying to remote sites/workstations. The University of New Mexico's School of Medicine and the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawai'i face similar health care challenges in providing and delivering services and training to remote and rural areas. Recognizing that health care needs are local and require local solutions, both states are committed to improving health care delivery to their unique populations by sharing information and experiences through emerging telehealth technologies by using high-performance computing and communications resources. The purpose of this study is to describe the deployment of a problem-based learning case distributed over the National Computational Science Alliance's Access Grid. Emphasis is placed on the underlying technical components of the TOUCH project, including the virtual reality development tool Flatland, the artificial intelligence-based simulation engine, the Access Grid, high-performance computing platforms, and the software that connects them all. In addition, educational and technical challenges for Project TOUCH are identified.
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