"Initiate-build-operate-transfer" - a strategy for establishing sustainable telemedicine programs not only in the developing countries

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2011;165:3-10.

Abstract

Establishing sustainable telemedicine has become a goal of many developing countries around the world. Yet, despite initiatives from a select few individuals and on occasion from various governments, often these initiatives never mature to become sustainable programs. The introduction of telemedicine and e-learning in the Balkans has been a pivotal step in advancing the quality and availability of medical services in a region whose infrastructure and resources have been decimated by wars, neglect, lack of funding, and poor management. The concept and establishment of the International Virtual e-Hospital (IVeH) has significantly impacted telemedicine and e-health services in Kosova. The success of the IVeH in Kosova has led to the development of similar programs in other Balkan countries and other developing countries in the hope of modernizing and improving their healthcare infrastructure. A comprehensive, four-pronged strategy developed by IVeH "Initiate-Build-Operate-Transfer" (IBOT), may be a useful approach in establishing telemedicine and e-health educational services not only in developing countries, but in developed countries. The development strategy, IBOT, used by the IVeH to establish and develop telemedicine programs is described. IBOT includes assessment of healthcare needs of each country, the development of a curriculum and education program, the establishment of a nationwide telemedicine network, and the integration of the telemedicine program into the very core of healthcare infrastructure. The end point is the transfer of a sustainable telehealth program to the nation involved. By applying IBOT, a sustainable telemedicine program of Kosova and Albania has been established as an effective prototype for telemedicine in the Balkans. Once fully matured, the program is transitioned to the Ministry of Health, which ensures the sustainability and ownership of the program. Similar programs are being established in Macedonia, Montenegro and other countries around the world. The IBOT model has been effective in creating sustainable telemedicine and e-health integrated programs in the Balkans and may be a good model for establishing such programs in developing countries.

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries*
  • Program Development / methods*
  • Telemedicine / organization & administration*
  • Yugoslavia