Chain of TRUST project: Closing meeting and new Horizons

The 2-year project Chain of TRUST ended in Brussels on the 24 January with a conference that included a multi-stakeholder audience. The project results compiled in a final report provoked interesting debates amongst participants.

The project’s conclusions and recommendations were welcomed by Antonyia Parvanova – Member of the European Parliament; Peter Zilgalvis - Head of the Health and Well Being Unit, DG CONNECT and Luc Nicolas from the Belgian Federal Public Service Public Health. They all contributed their view points during a panel intended to encourage a debate between policy-makers and stakeholders on the project findings.

Tapani Piha, Head of Unit for eHealth, Health Technology & Risk Assessment and Science in DG SANCO presented earlier in the day and stated: “The Chain of Trust project has demonstrated the complex nature of trust and found essential elements in creating confidence. The project findings will help to build the trust for the environment needed. I picked up some key recommendations that the Commission can look at carefully and take forward”.

He went on to welcome the project recommendations calling for the involvement of civil society organisations in eHealth national strategies and for the adoption of a harmonised European set of definitions (recommendations 2 and 10 of project report).

The following issues emerged through the day:

  • The need to emphasise the ‘service dimension’ of telehealth; too often telehealth reflects just the technology whereas it is in fact a tool for the delivery of healthcare.
  • The ‘human dimension’ came up strongly from different angles. Firstly, such innovative types of service will lead to a new type of patients, citizens and health professionals because they will need to have new roles and responsibilities. Secondly, the relationship between patients and health professionals will certainly change but there is no clear cut view of how. This needs to be further explored particularly in terms of impact on trust. Finally it is necessary to address the issue of skills and confidence of end users and the role of education and health literacy are crucial.
  • Telehealth has the potential to reduce existing inequalities. However it risks increasing them if the impact is not carefully assessed. There is the feeling that not enough attention is paid to this aspect and too little evidence is being developed.
  • Telehealth will clearly not move forward if some fundamental preconditions are not in place; a prominent one is the normative and legal framework.
  • There is a strong need to develop further evidence on the added value of telehealth with regard to different aspects – quality, effectiveness, and economic benefits amongst others.
  • Sharing of good and bad practice should be enhanced.

Robert Madelin, Director General of DG CONNECT congratulated EPF and the Chain of TRUST partners for “the intelligent choice of the theme and the timeliness of the report focusing on trust and acceptance”.

The conference concluded with the shared wish to look at telehealth with long-term aspirations and goals.

For further information, please contact Liuska Sanna, EPF Programme Manager.

The final report of Chain of TRUST is available here.