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Health On the Net Global Hospital Project

This document provides details of the Global Hospital Project being undertaken by the Foundation.


1. Introduction

The quantity and quality of medical and health-related information available on the Internet today is staggering. In addition, the number of medical and health professionals that are actively participating in online discussions and providing support to their colleagues is growing at an exponential rate.

This wealth of information and support provides an opportunity for Internet-based telemedicine that will support, and complement, existing and planned telemedicine projects utilising more advanced communications and computing technologies. Indeed, the Internet provides an excellent opportunity to test telemedicine concepts quickly and cost-effectively.

The Internet offers an opportunity for low cost, effective implementation of improved healthcare provision, through the availability of medical knowledge, expertise and support to medical and health professionals. The phenomena of online support groups, consisting of individuals nursing friends and relatives suffering from particular illnesses or disabilities, supported by medically trained professionals also provides an opportunity for cost-effective support that can complement existing social services.

Awareness of these opportunities remains low. Only 10% of the worlds hospitals currently use the Internet to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of their services.

Health On the Net Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, is seeking to address this situation through the Global Hospital Project. With the support of commercial and non-commercial organisations, the project will help these hospitals to implement Internet access and provide limited operational support through education and communications programs that highlight the value of the Internet to hospitals worldwide.

The Global Hospital Project has genuinely global objectives. Hospitals in developing and more developed countries can benefit alike from the Internet. Furthermore, each has a contribution to make to the development of the Internet and to professional colleagues around the world.

Research undertaken by the National Library of Medicine in the USA has demonstrated that a high proportion (90%) of US hospitals with a medical library and employing a professional librarian have already established Internet access but only 20% of hospitals with a medical library and no professional librarian have Internet access. This demonstrates the opportunity that exists in one of the more developed countries.

2. Project Objectives

The Global Hospital Project will bring 500 hospitals from every region of the world onto the Internet through education, communications and support programs. The Project will also educate health and medical professionals on the effective use of the Internet to support them in their work and of the resources that exist on it.

2.1 Primary Goals:

2.2 Secondary goals:

To achieve these objectives, the Health On the Net Foundation, together with supporting teams, will develop and deliver materials, and formal training, to all interested parties. The Foundation will also work with commercial and non-commercial organisations (Project Partners) to provide information, resources and products to hospitals that wish to take advantage of the benefits offered by the Internet.

The Project will also gather and distribute case studies of effective Internet use by health and medical professionals.

This project commenced January 1996 and will achieve its goal of 500 new hospitals on the Internet by December 1998.

3. Project Plan

3.1 Identify and monitor requirements

Impetus to this project came from a major working conference held in Geneva, September 1995 (see Annex: Health On the Net Foundation) that reviewed the needs of the international medical community. Further meetings have been held with members of the ITU Development Study Group on Telemedicine.

From these dicussions, it is apparent that the vast majority of medical and health professionals are unaware of the opportunities offered by the Internet to support them in their work.

Input from medical students will be actively encouraged in the requirements analysis. There is a clear role in the field of education and to encourage this active participation, the Foundation will provide funding for post-graduate students wishing to prepare post-graduate theses on telemedicine.

Continual feedback of medical profession needs will be presented by members of the Foundations Advisory Board and additional requirements will be solicited through the Foundations World- Wide Web server (URL http://www.hon.ch).

The foundation has conducted a Survey Feb/March 97 on the use of the Internet for medical/health purposes to assess the value, level and ease of use of the Net and attitudes towards anonymity.
Health On the Net Foundation hope the results of this Survey will help HON and other medical websites meet the needs of the Net community more effectively.

3.2 Awareness Program

Widespread visibility of the goals of this project, combined with active debate and case studies of hospitals that have already benefited from Internet access will encourage many hospitals to investigate the value of using the Internet themselves. It is anticipated that this awareness program will accelerate the decision process for many hospitals that have been considering access but have not yet taken the final decision.

The awareness program will combine press articles, fact sheets, conference papers and. of course, a mobilisation of interested parties currently active on the Internet. The Foundation will work closely with commercial and non-commercial bodies (Project Partners) to reinforce the goals of the Global Hospital Project and achieve the desired level of visibility. Offers of financial and technical support have been excellent to date and have included commercial organisations in the following fields:

The World-Wide Web will be used extensively for awareness communications and will act as a repository for all materials prepared during this Project. Links will be actively maintained to Webservers containing information of value to hospitals as well as medical and health professionals. Clearly, the Web cannot be the sole communications vehicle as target hospitals currently lack Internet access.

3.3 Preparation of education and training materials

The Project will fund the development of educational materials both within the Foundation and from external sources. The Project will actively seek help from interested parties that have already made materials available in the public domain. Discussions have already commenced with the creators of materials in this field that will help hospitals understand the value of the Internet to healthcare providers and its role as a telemedicine facilitator.

Materials will be made available initially in English and French. Additional languages will be supported in 1997.

This project will have very high visibility and will undoubtedly generate due recognition for those parties that contribute to the preparation of materials.

3.4 Delivery of training

Using the content developed in Section 3.3, conferences and training courses will be conducted in English and French speaking Regions by a team of presenters and trainers. These individuals will attend Train-the-Trainer courses and leave, capable of delivering training courses and conference papers that explain the benefits to hospitals of Internet access and show recipients how to achieve the maximum benefit from such access.

Trainers will be equipped with training materials, software and manuals that their students and audiences can use to achieve access rapidly.

It is anticipated that many trainers will already be employed by major training hospitals that have Internet access and practical experience. It is also anticipated that trainers will include post- gradate students receiving financial support from the Global Hospital Project while they prepare telemedicine theses.

3.5 Support

Hospitals will receive the following support from the Global Hospital Project :

  1. Awareness and implementation training as detailed above.

  2. Free and discounted software products donated by commercial sponsors.

  3. Access to materials of specific value to hospitals that have implemented Internet access as a result of the Global Hospital Project. It will be possible to download these materials from the Health On the Net Webserver and will provide tangible evidence of the value of Internet access to hospitals. The same Webserver will provide links to other sources of material available on the Internet.

  4. First-level technical support will be provided by help-desks established by the Global Hospital Project, assisted by Project Partners, around the world and at the Health On the Net Foundations headquarters in Geneva.

4. Milestones

  1. Feb `96 : Establish Web site with content of value to hospitals

  2. Apr `96 : Complete initial training materials

  3. Jun `96 : Run pilot awareness/training conference

  4. Jul `96 : Deliver first Train-the-Trainer course

  5. Sep `97 : First 100 hospitals accessing the Internet *

  6. May `98 : Next 200 hospitals accessing the Internet *

  7. Dec `98 : Next 200 hospitals accessing the Internet *

* To determine the number of hospitals that have accessed the Internet as a result of the Global Hospital Project, a careful record will be maintained of hospitals that have received awareness materials, attended training and awareness conferences and have subsequently established Internet access. These hospitals will be surveyed to determine the impact of the Global Hospital Project on their investment decision.

5. Finance

The estimated cost of the Global Hospital Project is US$3.4 million. To date, over US$1 million has been offered/contributed by donors. If your organisation is interested in participating in the Project and becoming a Project Partner, please see the contact information below.

The potential benefits to project participants are considerable and include;

Other benefits, to non-commercial donors, include:

6. Contact Information

  1. General Information
    Health On the Net Foundation
    Medical Informatics Division
    University Hospital of Geneva
    1211 Geneva 14
    Tel.: +41 22 372 62 73
    Fax: +41 22 372 61 98
    E-mail: info@hon.ch

  2. Sponsorship
    Please contact Mr M.A.Selby
    Executive Director
    Health On the Net Foundation
    Tel/Fax: +41 22 364 12 39
    E-mail: Mark.Selby@hon.ch

  3. Press relations
    Please contact Mrs Celia Boyer
    Health On the Net Foundation
    Tel.: +41 22 372 62 73
    Fax: +41 22 372 61 98
    E-mail: press@hon.ch

Annex: Health On the Net Foundation details

The Global Health Project is the first of several projects being undertaken by the Health On the Net Foundation.

Document Reference GH2


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