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Healthcare in Europe is based on a variety of networks whose individual centres perform different but increasingly integrated functions. In order not to lose investments already made in these networks HANSA's mission is to federate integration of different systems on an open middleware which will be a platform of common services. These modules of information systems with specific solutions to healthcare will help to provide cost-effective care of high quality.

By nature, healthcare organisational structure in all European Countries consists of networks of centres distributed over the territory, characterised by a high degree of heterogeneity and diversity, from the organisational, logistic, clinical and even cultural perspectives. In addition to that, also the structure of the individual centres is evolving from a vertical, aggregated organisation towards the integration of a set of specialised functional areas, with specific needs and characteristics. In such overall scenario a huge number of applications (mutually isolated and incompatible) are already installed and operational, effectively supporting specific needs of the users.

Under the present circumstances, the fundamental pre-requisite for supporting the evolving requirements of the users is to make it possible the actual interworking of the different systems, both in terms of exchanging of consistent information, and with respect to the All of that, by securing the investments already made, permitting the continuity of the service and facilitating a gradual evolution towards the new concepts of openness and modularity.

Not only such integration is required to improve the clinical treatments, but it is also pushed (also with new laws) by the urgent necessity of all European countries of controlling and optimising the current level of the expenditure for health, nevertheless ensuring the necessary qualitative level of services to all patients.

HANSA has the mission of facilitating such transition, by permitting the federation of the existing 'legacy' systems on top of the common, open DHE middleware, defined and developed under the umbrella of the EDITH/Italy project in Esprit. The DHE represents an open platform of common services, providing all modules of the information system with healthcare-specific functionalities supporting the functional and information interworking of the different applications, even if developed with different technologies and distributed across a network.

According to these objectives, the activities of HANSA will relate to the installation of the DHE in more than 20 hospitals from nine European countries, by integrating samples of the legacy applications already operational in the hospital on top of it. In parallel, national user groups will be organised, standardisation activities will be supported and industrial awareness will be promoted in all countries with a view of facilitating the convergence of users and industries towards the common approach.

To achieve the highest possible level of effectiveness, the HANSA consortium is structured as a federation of 9 National Focal Groups, comprising -at least- one industry and one hospital in each country. Under the coordination of 'Consorzio EDITH' (an organisation chaired by users and already grouping industries and hospitals), HANSA comprises the main leading actors in the national healthcare markets and scenarios, and can rely on the support from the local authorities.

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