Sunday, March 30, 2014

eHealth in the European Union: what's the diagnosis?

"Europe is facing a healthcare crunch as a result of our ageing population. By making the most use of digital tech, we can reduce costs, put the patient back in control, make healthcare more efficient and help European citizens to take an active part in society for longer. We have to keep our finger on the pulse!"– Neelie Kroes

What's the diagnosis?

According to two surveys in acute care hospitals (those intended for short-term medical or surgical treatment and care) and among General Practitioners (GPs) in Europe, the use of eHealth is starting to take off, with 60% of GPs using eHealth tools in 2013, up 50% since 2007. But much more needs to be done.
The main findings of the surveys include:
  1. Top performing countries for #eHealth uptake in hospitals are Denmark (66%), Estonia (63%), Sweden and Finland (both 62%). Full country profiles are available here.
  2. eHealth services are still mostly used for traditional recording and reporting rather than for clinical purposes, such as holding consultations online (only 10% of GPs hold online consultations)
  3. When it comes to digitising patient health records, the Netherlands take the gold with 83.2% digitisation; with silver medal for Denmark (80.6%) and the UK taking home bronze (80.5%);
  4. However, only 9% of hospitals in Europe allow patients to access online their own medical records, and most of those only give partial access;
  5. When adopting e-health, hospitals and GPs experience many barriers ranging from lack of interoperability to lack of regulatory framework and resources.
Commenting on the survey, Commission Vice President @NeelieKroesEU, said:
"We need to change the mentality in the healthcare sector rapidly. Six out of 10 GPs using eHealth shows that doctors are taking its temperature, but it's time for fever pitch! And only 9% of hospitals allow patients access to their own digital records? Come on! I want governments, high tech innovators, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and hospitals to join forces and create an innovative and cost-efficient healthcare system –with more control and transparency for the patient."
Commissioner for Health, Tonio Borg, added: “eHealth solutions can generate better care for patients and greater efficiency for health systems. The surveys show that some Member States are clearly leading the way in using ePrescriptions and electronic records for the benefit of patients, and can provide a source of inspiration to others. I count on all Member States to seize the potential of eHealth solutions and to co-operate in this regard within our EU eHealth Network."

Why the long wait?

When asked why GPs were not using eHealth services more, their reasons were a lack of remuneration (79%); insufficient knowledge of IT skills (72%); the lack of interoperability of systems (73%); and a lack of a regulatory framework on confidentiality and privacy for email doctor-patient communication (71%).
The studies measured the use of digital tools and services in health: use of and access to electronic health records, tele-health, exchange of information between professionals etc. These services, if fully implemented, give patients more information, and more involvement in their healthcare, improved access to health advice and treatment and can make national healthcare systems more efficient.
eHealth tools include (a) Electronic Health Records -EHR, (b) Health Information Exchange - HIE, (c) Tele-health, and (d) Personal Health Records).

Health Information Exchange:
  1. 48% of EU hospitals share some medical information with external GPs electronically and 70% of EU hospitals with external care providers. Top performers are Denmark, Estonia, Luxemburg, Netherlands and Sweden (100% of their acute hospitals perform some level of health information exchange);
  2. GPs make only limited use of ePrescription and doctor-patient email interaction (32% and 35% respectively). The top 3 performers for ePrescription are Estonia (100%), Croatia (99%) and Sweden (97%), while the usage of email is led by Denmark (100%), Estonia (70%) and Italy (62%);
  3. Less than 8% of EU hospitals share medical information electronically with healthcare providers located in other EU countries.

Only 9% of hospitals offer patients the opportunity to be remotely monitored, which would reduce the need for hospital stays and thereby increase the safety of living independently. Fewer than 10% of GPs conduct online consultations with patients and fewer than 16% with other medical specialists online.
Useful links
eHealth on Twitter


European Commission

Friday, March 21, 2014

Registration eHealth Forum Athens is open - Call for SMEs to 'GET Funded & International'

You can now register for the eHealth Forum, early bird fee applicable until the 31st of March. SMEs across Europe working in the eHealth sector are invited to apply for a free session on how to boost their growth and competitiveness.

Want to boost your growth and move to the next level of competitiveness? SMEs across Europe are invited to apply for a half-day 'GET Funded & International' session at eHealth Forum in Athens on Monday 12 May 2014.

Participants will have the opportunity to:
  • Present to an expert panel of investors, industry leaders and purchasers and receive feedback;
  • Gain valuable insights into what international purchasers and investors are looking for;
  • Hear success stories from SMEs who have successfully internationalised their products and services and secured investment;
  • Attend an informal networking lunch with presenters, panellists, purchasers and investors; and
  • Benefit from follow-up support activities after the 'Get Funded & International' session at Athens (e.g. for GET Global SMEs, two panel/SME teleconferences for feedback/guidance on plans for internationalisation and opportunities to attend other events).
Interested in attending the 'GET Funded & International' session? Register here.
The closing date for applications is Friday 4th April 2014. If shortlisted, you will be invited to  take part in a short telephone interview (15 mins) in the week commencing 7th or 14th April. Successful SMEs will be informed by Friday 18th April.
The 'GET Funded & International' session will be delivered as part of the EU-funded GET project (Global eHealth Transforming services). GET aims to help eHealth SMEs and entrepreneurs with high-impact sevices in order to boost their growth and move them to the next level of competitiveness.
More information about the session and the project on the GET website.
eHealth Forum 2014    

Organised by the Greek Presidency in cooperation with the European Commission, the eHealth Forum 2014 brings together a High-Level eHealth Experts’ Conference on European Priorities, the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP AHA) – incorporating events and an exhibition, a meeting of the eHealth Network, the 4th EU-US eHealth Marketplace & Cooperation Assembly, and much more.
The event will provide a unique forum for the exchange of experience, good practices innovation and mutual support.
More info and registration:
Note that there is no charge to attend the 'GET Funded & International' session, although a fee applies if you wish to attend the wider events of the eHealth Forum.
Digital Agenda newsroom archive:


Digital Agenda for Europe

Monday, March 10, 2014

Study of the policy mix for the reimbursement of medicine

This study is a proposal for a best practice-based approach based on stakeholder assessment.

As indicated by the authors [Sabine Vogler (GÖ FP), Nina Zimmermann GÖ FP), Katharina Habimana (GÖ FP)] in the Background sector of the study, EU Member States have been struggling to address the challenge of reconciling different, partially conflicting health and non-health policy objectives related to the reimbursement of medicines: timely patient access and equity, cost-containment and sustainable funding, and granting reward for innovation to the pharmaceutical industry. In the European Union, there is, as the High Level Pharmaceutical Forum welcomed, the development of a shared understanding that pricing and reimbursement policies need to balance these objectives.


European Commission

Saturday, March 01, 2014

World Health Statistics 2013

World Health Statistics 2013 contains WHO’s annual compilation of health-related data for its 194 Member States, and includes a summary of the progress made towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and associated targets.

This year, it also includes highlight summaries on the topics of reducing the gaps between the world’s most-advantaged and least-advantaged countries, and on current trends in official development assistance (ODA) for health.