Within the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), the Working Group Health and Information Technology (HIT) has organized its first workshop at the GMD offices in Germany last May. As a representative from the European Commission, Directorate-General XIII, Mister Peter Fatelnig offered a brief survey of the preparatory activities for the Fifth Framework Programme. The participating ERCIM members afterwards exchanged ideas about possible co-operation for future project proposals.
Mister Fatelnig, who is responsible for telematics applications with regard to health care within DG XIII, held an instructive presentation on the background and current status of the actions leading to the Fifth Framework Programme. He based his talk upon the findings of the Report of the Strategic Requirements Board for Health Telematics. After this introduction, the ERCIM members introduced several IT-based ideas for health care project proposals
The framework's second thematic programme is called "Creating a user-friendly information society" and deals with systems and services for the citizen in one of its key actions. The overall idea is to give the population easy and general access at reasonable cost to qualitative services, as well as elaborate stimulating initiatives for the industry to provide these services.
Specifically health care related activities for the sake of ill, ageing and disabled persons include the development of innovative computerised clinical systems, advanced telemedical services, health network applications to guarantee both continuity of care and health service management, and intelligent systems and services, so that the citizen is able to actively participate and take responsibility for his own health.
In order to turn health care into a professional, citizen-centred business of high quality, research and development activities in the Fifth Framework Programme will concentrate on system design for non-invasive diagnosis and therapy, advanced medical imaging and telemedicine applications, and of course "virtual hospitals" with single point-of-entry services. Hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, primary care and social centres will be interconnected through secure high speed computer networks.
Systems for hospital workflow management and re-engineering will have to provide a more effective and efficient monitoring of the patient stream, avoiding redundancy of care and examinations through the use of electronic health records and patient cards for sophisticated health data objects. To support the new tendency for telehomecare, it is necessary to design systems for personal health monitoring, including fixed or portable prevention devices, sensors, and transducers.
On top of this, the Fifth Framework Programme philosophy strives to make the citizen aware of his health through ongoing education by means of user-friendly and certified information systems. For more information on the subject, we refer to our article EU approach is citizen centred care in the July issue of Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine. Details on the HIT Workshop are available at the ERCIM Web site.