eHealth Action Plan: Digital tools at the patients’ service
The European Commission is planning to launch an Action Plan with a view to promote the full use of digital solutions in Europe's healthcare systems in order to improve healthcare for the benefit of patients, give patients more control of their care and reduce costs.
As Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, stated: "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."
In specific, the Action Plan will attempt to increase the pace of change and improvement in healthcare by enhancing user confidence in digital tools and apps, while at the same time ensuring that the market conditions encourage continued innovation. As a result, healthcare workers will have the opportunity to develop and enhance their digital skills thus, increasing their confidence in working with digital health tools, doctors will have more meaningful time with their patients and less unnecessary appointments, while patients will spend less time, effort and money on unnecessary hospital or GP visits.
Examples of eHealth services include health information networks, electronic health records, telemedicine services, wearable and portable personal health systems and many other information and communication technology (ICT)-based tools assisting disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow up.
Finally, the Action Plan will support entrepreneurs and SMEs who want to enter the eHealth market. In particular, the EU not only will provide legal help to those interested in the eHealth market, but it has also contributed more than €8 billion in support of research and deployment in the area of health, demographic change in the context of the programme Horizon 2020.