ehealth

Back in 2018 the UK signed up, alongside thirteen other nations [1] , to the Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP). This global network brings together governments, digital health agencies and the World Health Organization to support the use of digital technology in healthcare. The UK is pushing hard to digitise the delivery and management of healthcare. Some surveys show promising results with the UK well into the top half the league tables, although lagging the leading group – not bad for a country of 60 million people, given that most of those above the UK have relatively small populations. The government claims the National Health Service (NHS) is currently undergoing the largest digital health transformation programme in the world, with investment of more than £1 billion a year nationally (plus more from local budgets). Recently, significant funding has been announced: £160m investment to develop new diagnostic tests using AI, £250m for a new “AI Lab”, and a further £130m for new tech to tackle key disease areas. So, it wouldn’t be hard to think that all the indicators are positive. Yet despite this investment, the NHS has been accused of living in the ‘dark ages’, and ‘lagging far behind other industries’ where ‘phenomenal leaps’ towards digitisation have happened. It’s easy to compare health to retail and banking and ask why the health system lags behind other sectors. I have done it myself. However, the comparison is, of course, not straightforward. This was a hot topic at a recent gathering with senior NHS representatives during which it was outlined that the duty the NHS has to ensure that inequalities are not introduced through digitisation, alongside the low tolerance to risk, have a braking effect on developments. Nonetheless, we need to shift how care is delivered. Through new modes of communication, this...
Digital health has the potential to make healthcare better for patients and for healthcare professionals, as well as to accelerate the shift towards more efficient and cost-effective ways of delivering care. It promises to make healthcare better, safer, and more centred on the patient. Yet, despite this great potential, the people I speak to – including policymakers, experts, payers, patients, healthcare professionals and of course our member companies – have a shared sense that progress is too slow. There is a growing frustration that, in some instances, we have technologies that can solve pressing problems, but we are not putting them to use. So, what’s holding us back? One of the answers I hear most often is the lack of interoperability – the capacity of information systems, devices or applications from different vendors to connect and send or receive data. In a recent MedTech Europe member survey on digital, our members identified the lack of 'common standards for interoperability and connectivity' the single most important issue to address. Interoperability in practice would mean that digital health technologies could ‘talk to’ one another; they would securely share data in ways that optimise the health of patients and populations, and make care more efficient. They would, for example, enable patients with chronic conditions to send their data to their general practitioner (GP), rather than having to go to the doctor’s office; or hospitals and GPs to access the same health record to coordinate care for a given patient; or health systems to aggregate data from different sources to derive insights and enable research. Sadly, often technologies and systems cannot connect and share data. For example, hospital staff might not be able to access information held by their patient’s GP. Two hospitals cannot exchange medical records because they run on different IT systems...
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
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...
This blog is part 9 of a series on the MEAT value-based procurement project, an initiative that advocates towards a shift from price-based procurement towards value-based procurement. It does so by defining a Most Economically Advantageous Tendering (MEAT) framework that includes the value of medical technologies, services and solutions in procurement processes across Europe. Read part 1 , part 2 , part 3 , part 4 , part 5 , part 6 , part 7 and part 8 . Health systems across the globe are faced with unprecedented challenges. Demand and patient expectations are rising while financial resources are diminishing. To respond to these trends, we need a new approach to how we manage healthcare. At NHS North West Procurement Development, we have been looking at how rethinking procurement can deliver better outcomes for patients, increased savings opportunities, and wider operational efficiencies. We began exploring the principles and practices of ‘Value Based Procurement’ (VBP) in 2014. By working with the University of Liverpool and engaging with a wide range of stakeholders – including ICHOM, legal experts, suppliers and MedTech Europe – we have studied how VBP can work in practice and the changes needed to make it commonplace. New framework for change To move this process to the next stage, we have published a 30-page guide setting out the rational for embracing VBP, providing a framework for delivering change, and setting our vision for the future. We want this to inform the work of procurement officials and suppliers alike, to inspire health professionals, patients, policymakers and others to change how they think about preparing our health system for the future. Hospitals are busy places and there is rarely time to take a breath and consider reforming the system. That’s why we have aimed to make the new guide clear, concise...
How do we prepare Europe for future technologies? Technologies such as AI, robotics and precision medicine are a mix of challenge and opportunity. But how can we prepare for this new era of tech in the healthcare sector? Modern technologies have immense potential to improve health through promotion, prevention and protection; this represents not only innovation within a specific area, but a general change of the entire healthcare service workflow. To succeed, we need to lay a broad foundation – from investments and infrastructure to patients’ benefits and acceptance. For Europe to truly embrace digital health, technologies need to be made: available, affordable and acceptable. Europe has the opportunity to provide end-to-end conditions to shape the future of health technologies, improving the life of citizens. Success will not come from a sole player. To build trustworthy health databases we need to cross borders and open markets. We need to learn from each other. Front-runner countries must show the way for others. And most importantly, citizens need to trust the system with their data. The EU cannot reach these results, unless all member states are on board. The specifics of national and regional systems require stakeholders on all levels to work together towards the common goal of advancing infrastructure and engaging citizens. Therefore, the European Health Parliament will propose in 2018 that a Connected European Health Area is established to remove structural barriers and act as a vision for infrastructure, and that digital health is included in all relevant policy initiatives to accelerate a meaningful adoption of AI & robotics in healthcare.. Our full report “Breaking down barriers to digital health” will be available in April. Elin Mignérus The European Health Parliament brings a new angle to the work on health policy. By gathering young professionals from across Europe with experiences...