Europe's political viewpoint on the telemedical information society

Amsterdam 21 April 1998 As a member of the European Parliament, Mrs. Renata Heimisch represented the voice of the political world at the ITIS Conference, and the ideas it entertains towards the establishment of a Telemedical Information Society (TIS). She firmly expressed her belief in international cooperation for the development of useful telemedical applications. On the other hand, she pointed out that the concept still remains controversial with regard to the patient's privacy. As a result, politicians have to pave the way to enable standardisation.

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As a member of the European Parliament, Mrs. Renata Heimisch represented the voice of the political world at the ITIS Conference, and the ideas it entertains towards the establishment of a Telemedical Information Society (TIS). She firmly expressed her belief in international cooperation for the development of useful telemedical applications. On the other hand, she pointed out that the concept still remains controversial with regard to the patient's privacy. As a result, politicians have to pave the way to enable standardisation.

The favourable impact of telediagnosis and teleconsulting has been fully demonstrated by the US army during the war in Bosnia, two years ago. It has convinced the European politicians of the big role telemedicine could play in the daily life of the citizens in the Community. The creation of a TIS however is not an easy task to perform, as Mrs. Heimisch states. Especially in the field of security, a lot of research still is needed to avoid abuse of confidential patient data. Therefore, the European Community should be involved in an early stage in subjects, such as privacy legislation and standardisation. Maybe, it would be most suitable to use already existing standards.

At this point, the Internet perhaps may be too slow for telemedical purposes but it obviously cannot be neglected, according to Mrs. Heimisch. It constitutes currently one of the main telecommunications channels in telemedicine. The building and upgrading of networks involves sufficient and permanent funding. European budgets necessarily are limited so private investors will become more and more important to support the elaboration of a TIS. We urgently have to find ways to attract them to this ambitious project and convince them of an almost certain return on their investment, though it might not be an immediate one.


Leslie Versweyveld

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