E-health Solutions: is the EU Moving in the Right Direction?
Subjects: Digital Economy European Union Healthcare Sectors Services
Technology-based innovations are often seen as a luxury and the healthcare sector is not an exception. However, recent technological innovations, coupled with increasing broadband coverage and quality, widespread use of smartphones and enhanced storage thanks to cloud-based solutions, can provide the European healthcare system with more efficient and effective treatments. Several studies, in fact, confirm the positive impact of mobile devices, electronic health records, personal digital assistants and other e-health solutions on data management, error prevention, time and cost savings, patient compliance and remote patient monitoring.
Although the first Commission plan on e-health was adopted 10 years ago and since then the Commission has implemented (at least on paper) several other initiatives including the most recent launch of eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020, the European Union lags behind other countries in implementation of IT solutions in the healthcare sector. The shift towards e-health solutions is moving extraordinarily slowly while costs in healthcare keep rising fast.
The recent European Commission proposal to reform existing regulations for market authorization of medical devices might be a good opportunity to reduce the delays in patient access to medical devices that EU citizens encounter compared with our counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic. However, it seems that the EU intentions are moving in the oppositedirection. In another important area of e-health such as telemedicine, the EU has adopted the Directive 2011/24/EU which calls for the right of patients to be reimbursed for the provision of cross-border health services, including telemedicine. However, the Directive came into force last October and yet the majority of member states are lagging behind in its implementation.
We would like to shed some light on this complex framework and encourage you to send your comments, information on successful initiatives, proposals or analyses to firstname.lastname@example.org to share your view commenting this post!
Here some questions on which we would like to hear your point of view:
Are EU initiatives on e-health moving in the right direction? How will the reform of the approval processes for medical devices affect use and trade of medical devices? Is the Directive 2011/24/EU being actually enforced in the area of telemedicine? Which barriers are preventing IT solutions to be applied in healthcare sector?