Dr Angela Miller on the eViP Creative Commons Licensing model

Dr Angela Miller from SGUL is responsible for developing the Creative Commons Licensing model for eViP. In this blog she writes about the current status of the eViP CCL framework, issues with obtaining patient consent, and the future implications beyond the eViP programme.

The Electronic Virtual Patient project (eViP) has adopted a common licensing framework based on the Creative Commons Licensing model that permits sharing and repurposing of digital content, specifically VPs, for use in medical and healthcare education.

These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. At present, the member institutions are outlining the remit of he licensing terms available for the 320 virtual patients within the eViP repository.

Share and share alike

Crucial to the success of eViP is the ability to share and re-use the digital content of the VPs contributed by each eViP member.

In addition to the many issues surrounding patient consent, this process also involves understanding differences in copyright law between the European countries involved in the eViP consortium.

Therefore, the adoption of a common consent form that complies with national regulations and institutional policies across the EU for use by all eViP member institutions was imperative.

Furthermore, any such use of a commons consent form would also take into account future plans of the project: the intention would be for the forms to be applied to both new VPs and applied retrospectively to old VPs.

A matter of consent

Patient consent is the process by which permission is obtained from a patient to use their personal information for a certain purpose. Obtaining patient consent respects the individual concerned and protects their personal information.

The past two decades has witnessed a considerable volume of litigation in many countries focusing on the issue of consent, and as a consequence the doctrine of informed consent is assumed.

In the UK standard practice for informed consent also ensures compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the common law of Confidentiality, as these pieces of legislation, although separate, are closely linked. These legislations and practices are mirrored in the eViP member countries.

Here at eViP we compared the standard practices and policies of eViP member institutions and created a common consent form that that can be adopted and used for all eViP digital information.

The eViP common consent form is simple form presented in plain language, outlining who will gain access to the information, the purpose of the study, and an explanation of the uses and disclosures – including the fact that this use of personal data is optional.

This consent form has been approved by all eViP member institutions and will be translated into the respective language of the member. This form is now available on the eViP website.

Thinking outside the box…

Interestingly, the ability to devise a common consent form acceptable across jurisdictions has implications that reach far beyond the remits of the eViP programme.

The format of the form enables potential use in a wider arena as the project-related sections of the form can be amended to fit any project involving shared use of resources.

Together with a creative commons licensing framework, it is possible to achieve complete transparency on the use of shared resources.

Listen to Dr Angela Miller talk about the eViP Creative Commons Licensing framework here.
[audio:http://www.virtualpatients.eu/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/evip_ccl_podcast.mp3]

  1. Of interest, Lila Baily from the Creative Commons writes about the legal challenges facing those who wish to share patient health data for education purposes: http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/17254

    As Baily writes, the Open University state that in Ethiopia (for example) 84 million people are served by less than 2000 doctors. Clearly there is an urgent need to train more doctors in these places – this goes without saying.

    Virtual patients in themselves are not the answer, however a ‘share and share alike’ model that allows patient consent to be obtained across a wide range of jurisdictions will at least remove one of the major hurdles in medical training.