Alpine collaboration to roll out telemedicine





All participating countries in the ALIAS collaboration are now ready to roll out services in telemedicine. Eight hospitals from five countries in the Alpine region will now work together in the "Access and Networking in the Alpine Region" to improve access to telemedicine services for hospitals.
The initiative involves care organisations from Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia – as well as the non-EU member, Switzerland. It has been subsidised from 2009 until 2012 by the Alpine Space Programme, the EU transnational cooperation programme for the Alps. 
The pilot phase to assess the test platform was begun in November 2011 and completed in January this year. 
At that time, the test platform went online with rules for authentication and a firewall. A lot of technical activity was run to make sure that all hospitals in the network were properly connected to the platform. In January, the videoconferencing and second opinion tools were tested, along with the physician workflow integrating these tools and SMS service, and exchange of patient information.
 
The platform is built upon Microsoft technology. The aim was to ensure secure information exchanges between the sites and the central platform. Connectors used by sites were developed centrally to safeguard security. “All exchanges are built on international standards such as HL7, IHE profiles, etc.”, said Thierry Durand, Administrator at Système d’Information de Santé Rhône-Alpes.
 
According to Dr. Natalia Allegretti, ALIAS Project Manager, Lombardia Informatica, “now, all participating hospitals are ready to roll out the services”. 
The hospitals are connected either synchronously or asynchronously. A number of connections have been already carried out via ALIAS, both for consultations and access to patients records. Content such as medication, diagnoses, and therapies was translated into all languages of participants.
Even if a few organizational issues and some technical issues still need to be fixed, the central platform and related services are functioning well, summarized Dr. Allegretti.