A Global Information Society could bring enormous benefits to world health. Individuals could be immensely empowered by access to knowledge throughout the world on their health, life-style, ailments, diseases and disabilities, medicines and treatment protocols. Clinical professionals could gain by access to a vast range of international knowledge bases for education and training, to virtual electronic libraries, evidence based practice, outcomes and research results. They will be able to consult remotely with colleagues around the world and relay their expertise to any corner of the globe. Researchers could also benefit by increased electronic collaboration between colleagues. However, whilst such immense benefits can readily be predicted, their realisation on a global scale is another matter. This book reports the results of the G8-ENABLE project. G8-ENABLE was funded by the EU Commission. Its task has been to identify the barriers to a Global Information Society for Health, to make recommendations on actions that need to be taken to overcome these barriers, and to identify sources of good information. The major barriers dealt with in this report lie in the generic areas of protecting personal health information, data meanings and database navigation, ownership and legal accountability and access to networking and messaging standards. The recommendations formulated in this report are of great value for all key policy makers involved in enabling the global information infrastructure for health.
At a meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) Ministers in Naples, July 1994, it was agreed that action be taken to promote the development of a Global Information Society. In February 1995, 11 Themes were agreed one of which (Theme 8) was Healthcare. In 1998 Russia joined the G7 nations making it G8. In the remainder of the report the term G8 is used. Australia has been an integral part of the G8 Initiative and where the term G8 is used, it should be taken as including Australia.
Within the Healthcare Theme 8 a number of sub-projects were launched. Subproject 5 was initiated to investigate “Enabling Mechanisms”, that is the legal, ethical, technical and human factors that have to be resolved to enable a global information infrastructure for health. Its activities are determined by government nominated representatives of each of the nations involved which, in the case of Sub-project 5, comprised all the G7 nations plus Australia and the EU commission. Although not nominated by Government, Russian experts have also been involved. The UK leads Sub-project 5 and provides its secretariat.
In 1997, in a document “The Barriers”, the Sub-project identified what it saw as the barriers to the creation of a Global Information Society for Health, and their impact. Subsequently, a questionnaire survey was undertaken involving over 350 international experts in 29 countries. This validated the views in “The Barriers” report. It also provided international opinions on the relative significance of the barriers; identified further barriers; and assisted in identifying international sources of advice and information.
Building on this background, a submission for funding support was made to the Information Society Project Office (ISPO) of the EU Commission. The project G7-ENABLE (henceforth called G8-ENABLE) was subsequently approved for a 12 month period, commencing January 1998. Ray Rogers and Joy Reardon are the project managers on behalf of the European Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, UK.
The objectives set for G8-ENABLE are detailed in Annex 1. The main deliverable is a report to G8 nations, the EU Commission and other key policy makers with:
• details of the barriers to achieving a Global Information Society for Health;
• advice on how they should be approached in international projects;
• sources of international information;
• and, most important, recommendations on actions that should be taken.
This is the report from G8-ENABLE. Its compilation has involved several hundred international experts (see Annex 2). Their help and support are gratefully acknowledged.
As government nominated representatives, the members of Sub-project 5 commend this report.
Ray Rogers, Project Manager G8-ENABLE and Leader of Sub-project 5 firstname.lastname@example.org
Joy Reardon, Deputy Project Manager G8-ENABLE and Secretariat Sub-project 5 email@example.com
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