The European Commission unveils a new action plan for developing e-health

Politique publique | 24 Jan 2013

On 7 December, the European Commission unveiled a new action plan for developing e-health between 2012 and 2020, in an effort to “improve healthcare for the benefit of patients by giving them more control of their care,” according to an official press release. The objective is to “address barriers to the full use of digital solutions in Europe’s healthcare systems.” A green paper on m-health is also being funded for 2014.

This plan follows a previous plan that covered the period 2004-2012 which aimed to integrate e-health into the public policies of member states. “Today, every EU member state has an eHealth strategy in place and is working to achieve this”, as this Frequently Asked Questions on line provided by the Commission points out.

However, the Commission states that the digitalization of healthcare must still provide the efficiency gains that it promises, at a time when millions of Europeans download smartphone apps to improve their health and general wellbeing.

The action plan lists a series of objectives, which are to:
  • Clarify areas of legal uncertainty;
  • Improve interoperability between systems;
  • Increase awareness and skills among patients and healthcare professionals; 
  • Put patients at the centre with initiatives related to personal health management and support research into personalised medicine; 
  • Ensure free legal advice for start-up eHealth businesses.
Furthermore, the Commission has ordered a green paper on Mobile Health or mHealth for 2014, focusing on the issues of the quality (in terms of standardization and certification) and security of exchanged data.

This new plan is the response to a request made by the member states in 2009, and follows a public consultation carried out in 2011. In broader terms, it is part of the Digital Agenda for Europe, which sets out the guidelines for the development of new technology for European citizens. The agenda includes three specific actions concerning e-health: widespread deployment of telemedicine, patients’ access to their health data and interopérability.

For more information, visit the European Commission website.

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