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MEMO/11/287

Brussels, 11 May 2011

Digital Agenda: Kroes and Dalli welcome Council Presidency eHealth Declaration on delivering better health care

A Hungarian Presidency Declaration urging Member States to deploy eHealth services to the benefit of patients, healthcare workers and national healthcare systems has been welcomed by European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and Health Commissioner John Dalli. The Hungarian Presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers presented the Declaration at the Ministerial eHealth Conference in Budapest on 10th May. The Declaration calls for patients to be able to exercise their rights to receive care in another Member State, and supports the roll-out of telemedicine and telemonitoring notably for remote management of conditions such as diabetes and to reduce the hospitalisation of chronic heart failure patients. The Declaration also refers to the role eHealth and telemedicine can play to respond to the challenges of ageing populations faced by an increase in chronic diseases and a shortage of healthcare workers. The deployment of eHealth technologies in Europe, with a view to improving the quality of health care, reducing medical costs (expected to reach 16% of EU countries' GDP by 2020) and fostering independent living for those needing care, is a key objective of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, said: "I congratulate the Presidency for adopting this ambitious eHealth Declaration that urges Member States to take concrete steps to deploy eHealth systems and to set specific targets for improving telemonitoring and management of chronic diseases. The evidence shows that eHealth pays off in terms of efficiency gains, health and welfare improvements and increased care worker productivity."

John Dalli said: "I strongly believe that Member States have much to gain from greater co-operation on eHealth, which is why the European Commission is fostering and co-financing formal EU-level co-operation in this area. I welcome this Declaration and look forward to further progress in this area – for the benefit of all of Europe's patients – for many years to come".

The Presidency Declaration outlines a common, forward-looking vision and sets out a series of policy priorities. It stresses the need for, and benefits of, investment in eHealth and telemedicine and of strengthened coordination of all policies related to eHealth. It will support the work of the eHealth task force (see IP/11/551).

The Declaration urges Member States to implement Directive 2011/24/EU on patients' rights in cross-border healthcare and urges both Member States and relevant stakeholders to:

  • support and facilitate the deployment of telemedicine systems and services, in particular in the area of remote disease management where strong evidence on efficiency and clinical benefits exists

  • develop and adopt guidelines for health professionals, for implementing innovative tools aiming at enabling integrated health services, e.g. chronic disease management services, tools for better use of human resources and capacities in the health sector and access to appropriate, safe and quality healthcare

  • agree and implement common measures to achieve interoperability of eHealth systems

  • take steps to enable data analysis for research and public health purposes while ensuring respect for protection of personal data privacy

  • agree on a minimum common set of data to be collected and exchanged across Member States on chronic diseases.

The Commission particularly welcomes the fact that the Declaration urges Member States to commit themselves to concrete targets such as, by increasing use of telemedicine and telemonitoring solutions, to:

  • reduce hospitalisation of chronic heart disease patients

  • reduce the use of healthcare resources (i.e. hospitalisations, emergency care, primary care visits) by diabetes patients while ensuring optimal management of the condition

  • improve the quality of life and/or quality-adjusted life years (QALY) and/or disability adjusted life years (DALY), measured according to agreed international methodologies.

For more than two decades, the European Commission has been supporting EU research in eHealth through the funding of more than 450 projects worth some €1 billion to enable Europe to take the leadership in research and innovation in this field.

An online public consultation on eHealth runs until 25 May (see IP/11/461). 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.

Background

The eHealth Ministerial Conference 2011 is being held from 10th to 12th May 2011 in Budapest, as apart of the eHealth week. The event is co-organised by the Hungarian Presidency and the European Commission.

The theme of this 9th edition, "Investing in Health Systems of the Future" acknowledges that the European healthcare system is facing substantial challenges over the next decade, such as demographic change and reduced human resources, which force European leaders to re-design the healthcare landscape. eHealth Week 2011 offers an insight into how EU is planning and investing in eHealth and includes an exhibition showcasing leading industry examples of innovative solutions for eHealth.

Digital Agenda website:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/digital-agenda/index_en.htm

Neelie Kroes' website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/

Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter: http://twitter.com/neeliekroeseu

John Dalli's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/dalli/index_en.htm


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