The European Commission has last week launched its eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 (EHAP).
With a sub-title that reads "Putting patients in the driving seat: A digital future for healthcare", the EHAP wants to promote the full use of digital solutions in Europe's healthcare systems by taking away barriers that are currently hindering uptake. The rationale behind this goal is the European Commission's conviction that e-health can truly improve healthcare for the benefit of patients, give patients more control of their care and reduce costs.
Key barriers currently identified include:
- legal uncertainty;
- interoperability between systems;
- lack of awareness and skills among patients and healthcare professionals;
By focusing initially on these three issues, and additionally by
- putting patients at the centre with initiatives related to personal health management and supporting research into personalised medicine;
- ensuring free legal advice for start-up eHealth businesses;
the Commission hopes to achieve the goal of faster, increased uptake of e-health technologies.
On the occasion of the EHAP launch, Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: "Europe's healthcare systems aren't yet broken, but the cracks are beginning to show. It's time to give this 20th Century model a health check. The new European eHealth Action Plan sets out how we can bring digital benefits to healthcare, and lift the barriers to smarter, safer, patient-centred health services."
At the same time, the newly appointed Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, TOnio Borg, added: "eHealth solutions can deliver high quality, patient-centric, healthcare to our citizens. eHealth brings healthcare closer to people and improves health systems' efficiency. Today's Action Plan will help turn the eHealth potential into better care for our citizens. The eHealth Network under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive channels our joint commitment to find interoperable solutions at EU level."
The Action Plan can be consulted on the European Commission website.