International virtual e-hospital: the Balkans journey

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2008:131:3-20.


What started in Berlin in May of 2000 as an idea to create the telemedicine program of Kosova in order to help the country rebuild the broken medical system and change the miserable face of medicine, has now spread to other countries in the Balkans. Today, June 29, 2007, as I am rewriting this chapter, ten doctors and engineers from Kosova, Montenegro and Macedonia graduated from a three weeks intensive course on telemedicine, e-health and medical electronic library. This international telemedicine fellowship is organized by the very entity that was created in Berlin 7 years ago: The International Virtual e-Hospital (IVEH). This time, however they are part of a project called "Improving Health Care in the Balkans Using Telemedicine, Advanced Technologies and Cultural Exchange Programs as a Platform" funded by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Exchange of the State department of USA, and is being implemented in collaboration with Arizona Telemedicine Program and University of Arizona Health Science Center Library, as well as Alaska Telemedicine program in Anchorage. The goal of the program is to create the medical and technical leadership that will significantly enhance health care access and quality in the region. This program is creating a powerful international medical education network in the Balkans for further collaboration and development. As part of the project, 48 physicians, nurses and engineers from Kosova, Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania are being trained in telemedicine, e-health, electronic library management, trauma and surgical critical care. A group of experts in these same medical disciplines will conduct workshops, seminars and other cultural and educational activities in the Balkan region. We can say now with certainty that the Telemedicine Program of Kosova is having an impact in the region that goes far beyond telemedicine applications and advanced technologies in the Balkans. It is creating leadership that will take the future in their own hands, as they become the true champions of telemedicine and rebuilding the dream of advancing the health care in their own countries. As we say at IVEH, it is "one country at a time." In October, we will inaugurate the Second Phase of the Telemedicine Program of Kosova. On October 21-23, in Tirana, Albania, we will organize the Second Intensive Balkan Telemedicine and e-health seminar, a three-day workshop on current principles and practices of telemedicine, e-health, and medical informatics. The journey that started in Berlin is continuing. Soon we will be traveling to Atalaya, Peru and other communities of Amazon River, then Africa. We will not stop. One country at a time!

MeSH terms

  • Europe, Eastern
  • Hospital Information Systems*
  • Humans
  • International Educational Exchange
  • Telemedicine*