Brussels, 12 April 2011
Digital Agenda: Commission seeks views on improving healthcare by applying ICT (eHealth)
The European Commission is seeking citizens' and other interested parties' views on how the EU can help to deliver widespread benefits to the quality and efficiency of healthcare by applying information and communication technologies (ICT) (so-called 'eHealth'). ICT is already playing a central role in addressing the numerous challenges faced by healthcare systems across the EU including an ageing population, a rise in chronic diseases, budget cuts and a shortage of healthcare workers by for example allowing remote diagnosis, remote monitoring of patients' condition and secure sharing of patient records between healthcare professionals. However, there is considerable potential to develop eHealth much further in the future. eHealth can also make an important contribution to allowing people, especially older people, to enjoy more dignified and independent lives. More and more patients are pro-actively using technology to learn about illnesses and even to manage their conditions. eHealth will never replace the human touch but it can enable healthcare workers to dedicate more time to direct contacts with patients. Promoting eHealth is a key objective of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). The online public consultation runs until 25 May. The answers will feed into the preparation of the eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 that the Commission is due to present before the end of 2011.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said: "At a time when individuals and governments need to watch every euro, eHealth can help to improve the efficiency of healthcare systems and boost the economy as well as empowering patients. I welcome everybody's views on how eHealth can best be used for the benefit of all."
The Commission is inviting all interested parties, including healthcare professionals and patients, to give their feedback on the main benefits of eHealth, the main barriers preventing large-scale deployment, and the actions the European Commission should take to overcome them. In addition, stakeholders can provide their views on the best ways to improve interoperability, on how the Commission should address legal issues related to eHealth and on the best ways to support innovation.
Specifically, the questionnaire seeks feedback on the following goals:
to increase awareness of the benefits and opportunities of eHealth
to address the problems of interoperability of eHealth technologies
to improve legal certainty for eHealth
to support innovation and research in eHealth.
The forthcoming 2012-2020 eHealth Action Plan will be an opportunity to build on the actions of the first such Action Plan (see IP/04/580) which was launched in 2004. It will aim to take these actions a step further and provide a longer term vision for eHealth in Europe, in the context of the Digital Agenda for Europe as well as the Innovation Union and European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing.
The questionnaire will also help the Commission assess whether its proposed policy objectives are technically viable, workable in practice and in line with the expectations of stakeholders. The answers must be submitted by 25 May and they will feed into the eHealth Action Plan for 2012-2020.
The European Commission has been investing in eHealth research for over 20 years. Since 2004, when the first eHealth Action Plan was launched, it has also been developing targeted policy initiatives aimed at fostering widespread adoption of eHealth technologies across the EU.
In 2010, the flagship initiatives Digital Agenda for Europe and Innovation Union were launched as part of the EU's Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Both flagships incorporate an important role for eHealth: the Digital Agenda for Europe includes a number of targeted eHealth actions and goals as part of a wider strategy towards sustainable healthcare and ICT-based support for dignified and independent living. The Innovation Union strategy introduces the concept of a pilot European Innovation Partnership on active and healthy ageing, which is being put in place in 2011.
Public Consultation on the eHealth Action Plan (eHAP) 2012-2020:
Digital Agenda website:
Neelie Kroes' website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/
Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter: http://twitter.com/neeliekroeseu