An electronic dispute resolution system for patients, which allows parties to come to agreement online using electronic templates, is currently being trialled in hospitals in the UK.

The MeDispute system will allows patients to file their views, comments and complaints online. Patients will be able to register, login and send across a complaint or comment with any supporting evidence. This is logged by the arbitration system, which the complaint manager has access to. The query can then be managed online.

Benefits for patients include support for those who do not have English as their first language, reduction of delays and portability. NHS complaint managers benefit from clear case management, which lessens the possibility of any delay, and they avoid having to take "fierce complaints made over the phone".

The system is a ‘subset’ of the eDispute software, designed for SMEs and trialled in several places across Europe, including the European Court of Arbitration. The eDispute system can be set up to use several different discussion mechanisms, such as instant messaging and video conferencing as well as forums and e-mail.

Jacques Gouimenou, managing director of Tiga Technologies, manufacturers of the eDispute system, told "Our system reduces delays and costs. It is also very secure."

The project is being run by the Mobile Information & Network Technologies (MINT) centre at Kingston University, south-west London, and is funded by eTEN, a European Community project designed to help the roll-out of universal telecommunications services across Europe in areas including healthcare, learning and business.

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MINT, Kingston University