digital health

I’ve always believed that you get what you pay for, and digital health is no exception. Despite the promises of digital transformation to make healthcare services better, safer and more efficient, analogue healthcare services – visits to the doctor/hospital, therapies and drugs – have proved remarkably resilient. The reason seems to me quite obvious: analogue services are paid and reimbursed by European publicly-funded healthcare systems. Digital services such as mHealth apps, personal health management, remote monitoring, diagnostic algorithms etc. are often not. That is the premise of the paper “ Proposed Guiding Principles for Reimbursement of Digital Health Products and Solutions ” that the European Commission’s eHealth Stakeholder Group (eHSG) just released. The eHSG was set up in 2015 as a Commission expert group contributing to the development and implementation of eHealth policy at the EU level, and to provide input on the Commission’s eHealth-related activities. The paper was developed by a small band of stakeholders including industry, providers, healthcare professionals and pharmacists in a series of workshops and cooperative exchanges over the better part of two years, before it was reviewed and validated by the full eHSG in 2018/19. Although I personally joined the effort only after September when I became part of MedTech Europe’s team, I’m pleased to say that my colleagues and members at MedTech Europe have contributed quite substantially to this important work. The paper contains recommendations seeking to give guidance to healthcare authorities about principles and criteria to consider when making funding decisions about digital health. They call for specific criteria, funding, guidelines for evidence generation, and specific instruments for assessing digital health. I detect a growing awareness that digital health reimbursement is a major issue holding back deployment. Sebastian Gaiser, chair of the MedTech Europe Digital Health Committee, observes: “European funding and reimbursement systems...
Patrick Boisseau will be a speaker at the MedTech Forum on 16/5. Find more about the programme here ! As European research and innovation funds extend their focus towards diagnostics, digital and medical technologies, medtech companies must be ready to engage. A major future EU public-private partnership in research and innovation is currently in gestation. I believe it could help to address some of the biggest challenges in modern healthcare – and its scope will be wide enough to welcome medical devices and diagnostics companies, large and small. Let’s consider some historical context. The EU research and innovation budget is significant. The Horizon 2020 programme, which ends next year, has a budget of around €80 billion. One of the key elements, as far as healthcare is concerns, has been the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). This public-private partnership was funded by the European Commission and through in-kind contributions from pharmaceutical companies. In its first iteration, it had a total budget of €2 billion. The current incarnation which ends next year, has a budget of more than €3 billion. While IMI has, for more than 10 years, fostered collaboration and cooperation between pharmaceutical companies in unblocking bottlenecks in the medicines development pipeline, I expect the next big ‘PPP Health’ to go further. Modelled on the IMI structure as well as the ECSEL partnership for the micro-electronics sector, it will encompass pharma, biotech and medtech. This makes perfect sense: the solutions to the health challenges we face as a society do not lie in one industry – the future is patient-centred and integrated, with a significant role for digital technologies. I expect this approach to be welcomed by the medtech sector, particularly if it is accompanied by supports that will help start-ups and entrepreneurs tap into funds that may previously have seemed distant...
The digital era is rapidly reshaping the ways we perform, receive and perceive healthcare. Health data are essential ingredient to trigger the digital revolution and all its opportunities to improve the quality of care. However, the health data remained often unused and their eco-system is very much fragmented. Patients’ data are siloed in different systems, with heterogenous formats and standards, often involving a large variety of stakeholders, data quality and IT infrastructures. Those are amongst the challenges that the European Health Parliament is addressing in its policy recommendations – to be officially launched on 2nd April. The European Health Parliament (EHP) is a multidisciplinary movement connecting and empowering young European stakeholders to provide disruptive, actionable solutions for health. Each year, its five committees develop policy recommendations for the future of European health. Since September 2018, I have the pleasure to chair the Committee on Data for Healthy Societies and leading the drafting of its recommendations, addressed to European policymakers. Our calls for action cover a wide spectrum of topics, from data registers to ethical guidance. From my perspective, one of the most actionable call addresses the development of a truly European Digital Health Interoperability Framework. Why? Because we need to build a connected health eco-system that could allow patients to easily access their own data (also cross-border) while enabling physicians to provide better preventive and curative healthcare. How? We identified 3 main elements: 1. Broadening the scope of cross-border exchange of health data and fostering the role of the eHealth Network Building on the EU actions on electronic health records (EHR) and the related standard formats, new datasets should be promoted by the eHealth Network for cross-border electronic exchange of patients’ data. Furthermore, I think that the role of the eHealth Network in coordinating national approaches to the use of...

Lucia Medori

Chair of the Committee on Data for Healthy Societies European Health Parliament
Emerging technologies, innovative software and medical devices are revolutionising the healthcare industry. Decentralising clinical trial data is helping to unlock the full potential these tools by enabling people in different places to work securely on data without compromising patient privacy . One of the areas that I find most exciting is the use of predictive modelling and artificial intelligence in federated machine learning – a way to learn from data without removing it from the location where it is stored. This takes us beyond the current established concept of federated databases. By combining several new technologies, we can not only have distributed data – but also distributed 'data fictionalisation' (i.e. the learning from data). This enables owner control of the data during learning. In practice, this disruptive approach ensures that the study is built around the patient, rather than a centralized trial site. It unleashes new ways to use data, transforming how scientists conduct R&D in the discovery and management of various diseases. This new patient-centred approach means data can be collected anywhere – at a hospital or research centre, or from the patient's home using telemedicine tools. This produces data that is far more representative of a patient's real-world activities during their participation in a clinical study. Building clinical trials around patients in their homes and in the community through remote visits and monitoring, enhances recruitment and increases convenience for participants. The implementation of this decentralised research approach is well accepted by patients, offering measurable benefits. It means fewer site visits, making trial participation less daunting. Today's remote advanced technologies have provided many opportunities for healthcare organizations to enhance the overall care experience, improve the health of populations and reduce per capita healthcare costs, globally. As a result, we have seen readmissions among congestive heart failure (CHF) patients in...
We live at a time when there is more information about health than ever before. And in this digital age there are more smartphones than doctors per person in Europe. Health information is out there in droves, and it is conveniently accessible online 24 hours a day. But can citizens find , understand , assess and apply health information to improve their health outcomes? According to the European Health Literacy Survey published in 2015, not quite. And there are disparities within and between member states. The survey found that 26.9% of respondents in Bulgaria report inadequate levels of health literacy, versus 1.8% in the Netherlands. Health literacy, defined as an ability to find, understand, critically appraise and successfully apply health information in order to improve one’s well-being, is a key determinant of health. Research has shown that individuals with lower health literacy are less knowledgeable about diseases. They also adhere less to preventative measures and have higher hospitalisation rates . If you're like us, you've probably asked your search engine more questions about your health than to your healthcare provider. But how accurate is this information? Did the reader understand the complex medical language? One exciting avenue to improve health literacy is to provide a framework for the digital communication of health information. By mitigating the dissemination of inaccurate health information online and by improving the user-friendliness of online resources, citizens will be able to navigate the jungle of health information, understand important health topics, and be equipped to play an active role in their own health and in their local healthcare system. The ubiquity, adaptability and affordability of digital tools to improve health literacy is very appealing, but support is needed to reduce barriers to their use. Like many new tools, digital media come with benefits and limitations. Using...
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