From the Executive Director
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When the partnership program first began in 1992, health care professionals in the NIS and CEE had been isolated from each other and from access to research on medical advances for many years. But eager as they were to reach out to their colleagues around the world and to learn about new frontiers in medicine once political barriers had been lifted, they found themselves faced with new barricades. How could they economically span thousands of miles and sometimes more than a dozen time zones to take advantage of opportunities so that professional exchanges among partners are not limited to just a few trips a year?
To help close this gap, AIHA and its partners have introduced a host of ways information technology can help promote partnership goals. Beginning with e-mail to allow nearly instantaneous, cost-efficient communication, partners have also been given access to and training on using the World Wide Web, conducting chat sessions on the Internet, relaying medical images across the Internet, learning via teleconferences and new databases of journal articles, among the other innovations of the Information Age.
In Stavropol, Russia, doctors were able to consult with more than 20 surgeons worldwide via an Internet mailing list to get advice to repair a 16-year-old boy's torn artery. Doctors in St. Petersburg and Atlanta trade radiology images with the click of a mouse, and partners from Kosice, Slovakia revamped their drug use for preventing brain damage in premature newborns by carefully reviewing summaries of medical studies available on CD-ROM.
Patient records, pharmaceutical management and hospital financial systems have also benefited from advances in computer programs. To help manage these and the many other changes information technology has offered health care, AIHA is also helping partners identify and plan for the many benefits--and challenges--this new technology brings to health care.
Whether creating Web pages or holding training sessions by satellite, partners in the US and the NIS and CEE have the opportunity to be in the forefront of the technology revolution, opening new doors to communication and taking advantage of new horizons for learning.