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ENN proposes telematics support to slash the huge multi-billion ECU bill for annual treatment of headaches, sleep disorders and epilepsy in the EU. Efficient low-cost strategies to cope with these disorders are vital. With a view to developing them, the project will set up an international telematics-based network of neurological health care experts and resources to support the work of doctors in this field. They in turn will test the network and feed their own neurological case findings into its European data-base. Network cost-benefits will be assessed once the project is fully established.

Sleep disorders, headaches and epileptic disorders are common health problems in the EEC. The cost of treating these disorders is tremendous. Twenty billion ECUs are spent every year on headaches alone.

Sleep disturbances and snoring are even more common complaints, and epidemiological surveys indicate a large waste of human and financial resources to deal with these problems. The large outlay of public funds pays not only the medical expenses, but also the hidden cost of the professional and social impact of the above disorders due to absenteeism industrial and driving accidents, forced early retirement etc.

The imperative of the need for efficient, rational, low cost strategies to cope with these disorders is clear. The first priority is to appropriately educate health professionals throughout the community as how best to diagnose and treat these problems. However, the long term goal is to decrease health care expenses.

The project objective is the creation of a multimedia telematic network which can be distributed throughout the community. The ultimate goal of the project is the reduction of inappropriate expenses due to poor understanding and treatments of the above chronic ailments known to be widely distributed in the general EEC population. To achieve this ultimate goal, there must be creation of a knowledgeable force of health care providers throughout Europe. This knowledgeable force must have the support of experts and specialised laboratories.

The proposed network will encompass units located in different countries. The different units will participate in scientific exchanges aimed at developing and improving knowledge within their national borders as well as in the greater EEC. They will perform joint research and concerted efforts. These multinational collaborations are aimed at unified health care approaches and policies in the considered disorders. In the current proposal, twelve European health care providers will be involved. Diagnostic tools will be provided in each of the twelve countries and be widely available down to small centers and even individual patients' homes. The users of the network which will be developed, will be general practitioners (GPs) who will be the first to test the system and give feedback with respect to its efficacy. Users will be linked to experts. The overall network will bring to users tools that will improve diagnosis and treatment of the above health problems. Practically, the first users will consist of six groups distributed from northern to southern Europe located in the following areas: Tampere, Marburg, Paris, Bordeaux, Lisbon and the portuguese atlantic islands of the Azores. The users are faced with different cultural, social, and environmental demands that have to be evaluated continuously to develop the appropriate tools. They will associate with a multinational task force of multidisciplinary and multicentric experts who must provide appropriate responses to the users questions.

The outputs of the project will be: the realisation of an European neurological network data-base derived from users' case report; the creation of a tutorial for education of users on the indicated health problems; the creation of expert systems to bring immediate help for general practice of users as far as diagnosis and treatment are concerned; the creation of a communications network to allow users access to the above, and the experts through teleconsulting and other means. The proposed project will require creation of the above elements, validation of the prototypes by experts and assessment of their case of use, and appropriateness for users needs.

Finally, once the project is established the knowledge of users and the amount of support derived from utilisation of the network by users; as well as the cost-benefits brought by utilisation of the network will be evaluated.

Call for proposal

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