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|Meeting of the NATO Telemedicine Panel, Oslo 18-19 October 2003|
Meeting of the NATO Telemedicine Panel, Oslo 18-19 October 2003
NATO Telemedicine Panel
16 October 2003
A recent joint meeting was held in Oslo, where the NATO Telemedicine Panel and the NATO Medical Information Management Systems (MIMS) Working Groups met together to tackle the many problems of communications between the various elements of the national forces during times of action, as well as with some of the national healthcare systems during peacetime operations. The TM-Alliance, whose leadership is based at ESTEC, was invited to make presentations to this joint meeting on 18-19 October; Dr. Kass, ESTEC, representing the TM-Alliance, made presentations on both days.
NATO Telemedicine Panel
Telemedicine techniques applied in human spaceflight, in search and rescue, and in remote areas, are also beginning to be used by peace-keeping operations of NATO. Many issues encountered in civilian applications are also encountered by the NATO forces in action, or during peacetime, whether the issues are technological, legal, or administrative.
NATO/COMEDS TELEMED (Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services Telemedicine Panel) is a subgroup of the NATO/COMEDS Medical Information Management Systems (MIMS) Working Group. These groups meet a couple of times per year, both to work out the solutions to the various technical and legal problems of interoperability as well as to exchange valuable experience and lessons learned from real-life operations, such as those in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
TM-Alliance at the meeting
Dr. James Kass, representing the TM-Alliance, ESTEC, made two important presentations to this group: The first was an introduction to the TM-Alliance itself, being a consortium of ESA, WHO (World Health Organisation) and ITU (International Telecommunications Union): He presented the experiences of the 3 organisations, especially that of ESA in the area of Telemedicine, where the agency possesses long experience of telemedical operations both in human spaceflight and in long-duration ground simulations, as well as in satellite Telecommunications. He also presented the on-going activities of the TM-Alliance who are now working under contract to the EC, and the planned future activities, which are mainly concerned with cross-border interoperability and its associated problems.
Because many members of the working groups had not had the chance of hearing his presentation at the preceding Telemedicine Conference in Tromsø, Norway, Dr. Kass was asked to deliver his talk once again in Oslo. The challenging topic was “Data Privacy and its Impact on Implementing Cross-border Healthcare in the EU and Beyond”. The group were particularly interested in learning about the legal implications on Telemedicine and eHealth of the new EU Directive 95-46 on personal data privacy. Indeed, the healthcare providers of the NATO forces and support personnel are subject to the national laws of the countries of their personnel and the countries in which they are operating. Likewise, the NATO personnel are protected in similar manner that EU residents are protected by the EU Directive because many (in fact, most) of their personnel are European and based in Europe.
From this first encounter, it was clear to all participants that an exchange of information between the TM-Alliance and the NATO medical working groups was useful to both parties, and it was agreed that the two groups would continue to collaborate in the future.
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