Western Australian premier Geoff Gallop today launched the world's first e-medicine research initiative at Edith Cowan University.
The groundbreaking research centre will be home to up to two dozen researchers devising equipment to improve healthcare for people in regional and remote locations.
Researchers at the International Centre for Health Care Solutions, known as e-Med, are working on Star Trek-style portable devices, futuristic virtual surgical training tools and biosecurity innovations.
E-Med is based at two locations - the Lions Eye Institute in Nedlands and Edith Cowan University's Joondalup campus - but its staff will collaborate in cyber space from multiple sites.
The WA government has contributed $2.25 million towards the project.
Professor Kanagasingam Yogesan, e-Med director, said the growth of preventable disease in developed and developing nations is accelerating at a much greater rate than qualified personnel are being trained.
"The need for mass screening and point-of-care diagnosis technology is huge," he said.
Co-director and ECU Professor Linda Kristjanson said e-Med will address this demand through the development of affordable diagnostic tools, education and training programs and the export of clinical and disease management services.
E-Med researchers are working on low-cost diagnostic imaging devices for eye health; portable x-ray tools; virtual-reality equipment for training in surgery; and innovations in managing wound care.
Telemedicine will be a big part of the future and e-Med means Western Australia will be at the forefront of this trend, she added.