Co-operative health information networks in Europe: experiences from Greece and Scotland

J Med Internet Res. 2000 Apr-Jun;2(2):E11. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2.2.e11.


Background: Internet technology is transforming the general approach to communication and dissemination of information in the field of healthcare. However, it is also creating problems in terms of finding information, and knowing what credibility to place on the information found. The chaotic nature of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the simplistic approach adopted by search engines can make the task of finding relevant information difficult, and the user can waste considerable amounts of time on the process. Even when information is found, there is no general quality assurance process that can guarantee the credibility of the resulting information.

Objective: The aim of this research was to develop an approach for establishing co-operative health information networks (CHINs) with different focuses, which can be used in different parts of Europe. The resulting CHINs would provide organised healthcare information and support comprehensive and integrated sets of healthcare telematic services for a broad range of users. Such developments would reduce the difficulties of finding information and knowing what credibility to ascribe to it.

Methods: A common approach has been developed based on drawing together contributions from the major healthcare service providers in the region. Standard structures are recommended so that information is presented in a uniform way. Appropriate mechanisms ensure adequate security and a level of quality assurance for the end user.

Results: Since 1996, CHINs have been developed in six European countries as part of a European Union (EU) project. This paper presents the overall approach adopted, and the achievements in two different regions of Europe (Greece and Scotland). Although the circumstances in these two regions are very different, in both cases the resulting CHIN has proved successful.

Conclusions: CHINs offer a solution to the difficulty of finding relevant health information on the Internet and guaranteeing its credibility. They can be used in different ways in different regions, and have major benefits for both information providers and end users.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Community Networks / organization & administration*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • European Union
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Information Services / standards
  • Information Services / supply & distribution
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Internet / organization & administration
  • Internet / standards*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Scotland