The final phase of the PRO-ACCESS project coincides with the accession of ten new member states to the European Union. This exciting moment in European history brings great opportunities for the entrant countries, but it also means they will have to face new challenges.
The accession process demands considerable effort on the part of new member states, aimed at developing common policies and strategies. Over the last two years we have tried to encourage the community of medical informatics professionals and researchers from Central and Eastern European countries to undertake these challenges and join European activities in the field of e-health. We are aware of the fact that only common standards and procedures will enable full integration of this region with the main stream of Information Society developments, currently accelerating all over Europe.
The PRO-ACCESS project aims at carrying modern e-health perspectives to new EU member states. We are proud that a considerable number of papers presented in this book have been prepared by authors from these countries. This should prove encouraging for all those who believe in the great potential of this European region. This book also reports on the results of cooperation between researchers and centres representing both new EU entrants and those countries, that have been part of the Community for a long time.
The European Commission has consistently fostered the strategy of e-health development over the past decades. Yet, the economic transformation underway in Central and Eastern European countries does not favour rapid development in this domain. Healthcare systems all over the region are being transformed in search of more effective mechanisms of financing. Even though the e-health environment brings many opportunities related to improved resource management and better quality of care, its potential cannot currently be fully explored, due to the difficult economic situation and the lack of a welldeveloped information infrastructure.
One of the main motivations for publishing this book was the editors' conviction that only continuous effort to trigger activities, exchange ideas and share experience can speed up e-health services development in Central and Eastern countries. Transfer of knowledge and technology is surely one of the key mechanisms through which these new EU member states can integrate themselves with the Community. Such transfer brings a chance of achieving synergy during the expansion process and bodes well for the increased competitiveness of the enlarged European Union.
We would like to express our thanks to all authors, colleagues and partners from the PRO-ACCESS project, who supported our efforts to prepare this Book.
Mariusz Duplaga, Krzysztof Zieliński