The Telemedicine Alliance was formed in 2003 under the auspices of the European Commission (EC) within the 5th Framework Programme of the Information Society Technologies (IST). The overall goal of this consortium was to formulate an overlying policy for the application of eHealth in support of the European citizen, and to create a Vision for a personal healthcare network by the year 2010.
The TM Alliance comprises partners renowned in their fields and being at the same time international organisations representing a broad spectrum of nations, thus offering a unique platform of expertise while being neutral in approach. The partners of the project consortium comprise a unique team of international intergovernmental agencies:
- The European Space Agency (ESA), http://www.esa.int
- The World Health Organisation (WHO), http://www.euro.who.int/telemed
- The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/
The responsible person for the project on the EC side was Octavian Purcarea, while his counterpart on the project side was Dr Didier Schmitt of ESA, Dr Kass playing a leading role on the team. The TM Alliance website provides more detailed information on the activities of the alliance.
With the successful conclusion of the TM-Alliance project in 2004, this prestigious consortium has formulated a strategic Vision for the European Commission. With the underlying philosophy that a vision must be far-sighted, clear, and holistic in order to have a good chance of being accepted and successfully implemented, the consortium formulated a vision for harnessing the salient attributes of information and communication technologies (ICT) towards facilitating citizen-centred healthcare in Europe by the year 2010.
The Telemedicine Alliance has developed a Vision for citizen-centred eHealth that is both comprehensive and achievable. The arguments for its adoption by all Member States of the European Union are persuasive from a healthcare perspective and in support of the Lisbon Accord.
The Roadmap for implementing the Vision includes actions that are realistic and build on the general trends in healthcare and information and communications technology. These steps require sensible changes in legislation, healthcare delivery and technical aspects. Although many of these changes are inevitable even without the TM Alliance’s Vision, there is a high risk that their implementation would be uncoordinated and haphazard. The results of such an uncoordinated approach could be limited and incompatible limited approaches with lower benefits to the European citizen, while hindering the rational development of a pan- European approach and market for eHealth products with its accompanied benefits.
It now remains for key healthcare decision makers to adopt the Vision and apply it to their own healthcare systems. They will have to ensure that the increasing cross-border flows are facilitated by agreeing to binding international standards for the exchange of information and for legal safeguards. Implementation of the Telemedicine Alliance’s Vision will result in healthcare systems based on integrated solutions where the investments made are fully in line with the resulting benefits. It will also ensure that the healthcare expectations of Europe’s citizens, founded on comparisons with other industries, will be met, rather than facing their growing dissatisfaction with a deteriorating service as a result of a combination of ever-increasing demand and spiraling costs. The Telemedicine Alliance believes that there are few alternatives to a citizen-centred eHealth system on the horizon and therefore recommends its prompt and vigorous adoption!
The outcome of the project is summarized in the following downloadable brochure.