ehealth

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...
By unleashing the power of machine learning, we can better understand behaviour, empower patients to make smarter decisions – and save billions of euros . Unhealthy lifestyles are driving an explosion in chronic conditions, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. By choosing to smoke, having an inconsistency in maintaining a healthy diet and opting out of exercising, we place ourselves at risk of ill-health. At the same time, some patients are neglecting to take their medicines as prescribed or are misusing antibiotics – with devastating consequences. Around twenty–one percent (21%) of US healthcare costs are attributable to the influence of human behaviour. For example, poor medication adherence alone costs the US more than $100 billion annually. Harvard and the World Economic Forum have estimated that non-communicable diseases result in economic losses for developing economies equivalent to four to five percent (4-5%) of their GDP per annum. A patient-centric approach to behaviour change promises not only to improve clinical outcomes, but to address the rising demand for health services. Better education and awareness can help individuals to make smarter choices. There are a range of interventions available, but the challenge is providing the right patient with the right behaviour change intervention at the right time. If We Can Predict, We Can Prevent Now we have new tools at our disposal, informed by research from psychology and behavioural economics, and powered by technological advances. As someone with a keen interest in behaviour change and the predictive power of analytics, I believe machine learning can help to make our health systems more sustainable. Artificial Intelligence (AI) allows us to evaluate how an individual makes lifestyle decisions and tailor behaviour change programmes to suit their needs. When considering an example of poor medication adherence, if we are aware of who is at risk and...
Most Europeans born today will live into their eighties but behind that impressive statistic lie inequalities and ill-health. It’s time we focused on adding life to years instead of years to life. In 1990, life expectancy at birth was 74.1 years in Europe. Today, it’s 80.9. This is a remarkable achievement, by any measure. However, adding to our quantity of life is no guarantee of quality of life. Yes, the chances of surviving cancer, heart attack and stroke are higher than ever, thanks to improved healthcare. The prospects of surviving without disability are less rosy. Startling statistic Here is one of the most shocking statistics I’ve read in a long time: men and women spend 79% and 74% of their lives, respectively, in good health. Or, to put it another way, men live more than a fifth of their lives in bad health while women live more than a quarter of their lives in an unhealthy state. This explains why policymakers are shifting focus to healthy life years . The EU is trying to add two healthy life years – or ‘disability-free life expectancy’ – to our lives by 2020. After all, adding two more years to life is not worth much if they are two extra years of misery. Today in Europe, 50 million people over the age of 65 live with two or more chronic conditions, according to figures published by the EU/OECD . This comes at a profound human cost as well as an estimated economic loss of €115 billion. Another challenge that lies behind the impressive life expectancy figures is inequality. Let’s take gender first: the typical European women lives to around 83 while her male counterpart is lucky if he celebrates his 78 th birthday. Even bigger disparities emerge if we compare Europe’s best-performing health...