Solutions and opportunities to address changing needs in the digital era.
Demographic changes and new solutions to address them are at the core of the European Health Forum Gastein this year. Health systems have to be more efficient and innovative ways to deal with those problems need to be developed. Also during the “Reality meets Reality” (II) session organised by DG CONNECT these topics were put on the table and opportunities were identified.
The first part of the session focused on integration of care and the opportunities that it can bring. In the quest of addressing the needs of rapidly ageing populations, integrated care facilitated by ICT could play a major role by applying integrated care coordination, patient empowerment, and home support pathways. Esteban De Manuel Keenoy, Clinical Director of the Carewell Project, showed that integrated care can reduce emergency admission with up to 2% and can therefore have a significant impact on budgets. I think these are promising results since sustainability of healthcare systems are one of the major challenges we need to overcome. Integration of care also means better interoperability and overcoming silo mentalities between patients, informal carers and health professionals. Working across organisational silos allows for a broad approach to care where the patient is at the centre. In this perspective integrated care is not only cheaper but also more effective.
In the second part of the session the focus was on the eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 of the European Commission and the work that has been done so far. It is clear that digitalisation is becoming part of everyday practice and that it has gained significant importance as a means to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of systems and their control, and the reduction of expenditures. The full potential of eHealth has, however, not yet been deployed as barriers still exist. One of the barriers that were discussed during the session was interoperability. The eHealth Action Plan is addressing this through the development of an eHealth Interoperability Framework and by providing legal clarity. I believe interoperability of ICT-enabled solutions is key and further attention need to be devoted to it. Interoperability is the precondition for better coordination and integration across entire chain and healthcare delivery and health data exchange.
Taken this together, digital technologies can provide solutions to the current challenges of EU health systems. Promising results were presented regarding integrated care where interoperability and overcoming silo mentalities are necessary facilitators. Also in the broader deployment of eHealth, discussions during the session pointed at interoperability as a necessary element before eHealth can provide digital solutions.
This Blog was written by the Young Gasteiner Petronille Bogaert