Report “Redesigning health in Europe for 2020”

As member of the EU Task Force of high level advisors on e-Health, our President Anders Olauson has presented the Task Force’s report “Redesigning health in Europe for 2020” at the Danish eHealth Observatory's Annual Meeting on 9 September. In this report the group has identified five levers for change and formulated five recommendations for action.

The task force has identified five levers that could create the momentum for a fundamental re-organisation of healthcare to make use of already existing information technologies:

  • “My data, my decisions”: patients are the owners and controllers of their own health data, with the right to make decisions over access to the data and to be informed about how it will be used.
  • “Liberate the data”: governments should ensure that health data is accurate, reliable, and up-to-date; that it is gathered in a standard way, and anonymised before it is made available to anyone that can add value to it in the best interest of the patient.
  • “Connect up everything”: the digital environment is evolving rapidly with an increasing trend of interaction and sharing. Healthcare needs therefore to reap the benefits of the digital age in order to provide more integrated and personalised care to patients rather than “only” interventions.
  • “Revolutionise health”: By that we mean creating the necessary conditions for patients to be able to make more informed choices about where and how we want to be treated. This will have real impact on resource allocation in health, as funding follows the patients and not the other way round.
  • “Include everyone”: the needs of the vulnerable communities that are outside the reach of eHealth tools need to be accommodated otherwise chances are that eHealth could ultimately exacerbate existing inequalities rather than reducing them.

On the basis of these five levers the Task Force has formulated five recommendations for action to support their vision of health in 2020. These are addressed to policymakers at the European and national levels.

Most urgently, the Task Force calls upon policy makers to act quickly to create a legal framework and space to manage the explosion of health data. This needs to put in place the safeguards that will allow patients to use eHealth services with confidence that our data is handled appropriately.

The second recommendation is for European and national policy makers to create a 'beacon group' of Member States and regions committed to open data and eHealth. There is no unique eHealth model that can be imposed across Europe, but the experience of others can be shared and the lessons learned.

The third recommendation lies at the very heart of EPF main concerns as it calls upon policy makers at all levels to support health literacy among patients. Health literate patients have better awareness and knowledge about medicines use, and take greater responsibility for their own health.

The fourth recommendation calls for an effort to overcome the “silo mentality” in primary, secondary and tertiary health institutions. “This silo mentality mirrors the way that health professionals guard their own competence and areas of expertise. In the new era of eHealth, multidisciplinary teams of different actors are part of future picture of health”, explained our President.

The last recommendation calls for the promotion of user driven innovation in health as opposed to technology-driven innovation. The next phase should see investment in tools that patients can use to support their wellbeing and manage their lives which would close the gap between innovation and market and between market and patients.

Anders Olauson concluded his presentation in calling the audience’s attention to the importance of focusing on patient acceptance in eHealth. “Although key to fostering eHealth uptake user acceptance is too often disregarded in discussions around eHealth strategies and policies. EPF is firmly convinced that the only way for eHealth solutions to work effectively is ensuring acceptance by the people who will eventually use them.”