The recently agreed World Health Assembly eHealth Resolution (WHA58/28) is testament to the growing commitment of governments from around the globe to the huge range of possibilities offered by eHealth. These opportunities are on offer for actors across the healthcare spectrum, encompassing citizens, patients, healthcare professionals, care providers and purchasers, governments and industry. eHealth also provides a variety of tools which can be of use for prevention and health information purposes.
Both the European Commission's eHealth Action Plan (COM 2004 (356)) and the World Health Assembly eHealth Resolution note that the healthcare sector has many contiguous areas including administration, care planning and provision, social care, continuing medical education, and research. In all these areas, information from core healthcare processes can be provided through appropriate eHealth applications. The power of eHealth can be best exploited, if it is deployed across the internal borders of the health care sector and, if its tools and services are adapted to meet the information needs of one of the most complex and differentiated sectors of the European economy.
Similarly, the public health advantages of providing better information to citizens, health professionals and patients on healthy living, and information on disease and its prevention are a growing requirement. Finally, use of eHealth tools for data collection and health monitoring provides the possibilities for more accurate monitoring of health status and more rapid reporting.
- Healthcare around the globe is facing major challenges that include: rising demands for healthcare; ageing population; increasing mobility; reducing the current disease burden; investing in technologies; managing large amounts of information; competing global industrial and commercial economies; providing best possible healthcare under limited budgetary conditions.
- The main social and economic challenges facing eHealth in Europe are:
- the complexity of developing interoperability solutions;
- investment in infrastructure;
- development of a modern European approach to the challenges outlined above.
- Provision of better quality information to citizens, health professionals and patients can improve prevention effectiveness and reduce pressure on healthcare systems.
- Better eHealth tools for data collection and analysis can deliver a more accurate and complete picture of health status.
- eHealth, and particularly eHealth interoperability, can offer a number of golden opportunities.
- Europe can benefit from eHealth that focuses on ensuring better:
- prevention of diseases
- prediction of diseases
- personalisation of healthcare
- participation of Europe's citizens in their own health care improvement
- increased patient safety throughout all stages of the healthcare process
- productivity and performance of Europe's healthcare systems, and of Europe's third healthcare industrial pillar
- monitoring of indicators and production of regular data and reports on health status.
- eHealth can also underscore and underpin other current concerns of healthcare authorities throughout Europe, such as:
- providing support to health professionals by making up-to-date information available on disease prevention and management
- assessing means of cross-border healthcare purchasing and provision
- understanding and monitoring of health professionals' mobility
- creating interaction and organisational links among the public health community in Europe
- creating a network of health impact assessment and health systems
- creating an operational network of Member States patient safety contact points.
- within the context of a staged and structured approach, working through such initiatives as:
- eHealth national and regional action plans and roadmaps, and all the associated follow-up to COM (2004) 356
- the eHealth interoperability initiative
- i2010 initiative
- ICT for independent living
- the Seventh Framework Programme; the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme; and the Policy Support Fund
- the current Public Health Programme and any successor programme.
The Partipants at the eHealth 2006 High Level Conference in Málaga, Spain
The relevant European stakeholders including governments and industry, national implementation authorities, care providers and purchasers, healthcare professionals, patients, and citizens, as appropriate, to take practical steps to:
- facilitate information and communication technologies to ensure independent living (improving better lifestyle and healthcare; improving primary health; treating people in their appropriate individual settings), for example, through the EU Public Health Portal, support tools for specific groups such as elderly people and disabled people, and other similar national initiatives
- encourage eHealth tools to improve quality and timeliness of health monitoring in Europe, including in the primary health sector, making data comparable
- promote eHealth information tools to provide health professionals in Europe with access to up to date information and knowledge tools
- improve eHealth deployment
- strengthen eHealth interoperability in Europe, and move it forward in a positive, pro-active, and constructive way by giving support to four principal activities (patient summaries, patient and professional identifiers, minimum emergency data sets, and ePrescribing)
- share existing, and developing, good practice in an effective and analytical way
- develop ongoing and new avenues of research that will strengthen healthcare of the midand long-term future.
For furhter information, please visit: http://www.ehealthconference2006.org/