e-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...