Digital health refers to healthcare practices supported by electronic processes and communication. It includes a wide range of services and information technology such as electronic medical records, telemedicine, evidence-based medicine, consumer health informatics, etc.
Healthcare systems are becoming increasingly dependent on information and communication technologies to deliver quality care to EU citizens. As a result, digital health was set up as one of the priorities of the EU’s i2010 programme and is also a strategic priority for EPF, as set out in the EPF Strategic Plan, and EPF Annual Work Plans 2007 and 2008.
EPF is a member of the e-Health Users’ Stakeholders Group, which provides advice to the European Commission (DG INFSO) on the progression of the European eHealth Action plan.
In December 2016, following a consultation of the EPF Policy Advisory Group EPF published a position paper on Digital Health, which draws on the findings of various eHealth-related projects in which EPF has participated in over the last few years.
In 2019 EPF launched the Working Group on Digital Health, with the aim of developing EPF’s overall strategy on digital health. This includes working towards the gathering of patients’ views on various topics related to digital health, such as the protection and sharing of data from patients’ electronic health records.
In 2020, in response to the publication of the European Commission’s new plans on digitalisation in February, which included a novel Data Strategy and a White Paper on AI, EPF launched a broad consultation initiative involving its 75 national and European members. The process included two webinars to collect patient groups’ views and a dedicated exchange with the EPF Digital Health Working group. To support this initiative, EPF has also published an EU Policy Briefing on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence plus a summary report from our recent survey on Electronic Health Records. You can find our statement in response to the European Commission’s Data Strategy here