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Public Health (20-11-2013)

Member States take major step in eHealth cooperation to improve care for patients across EU borders

Yesterday, at the 4 th eHealth Network meeting in Brussels, guidelines were adopted to make it possible to share basic health information for a patient across borders. These guidelines were developed and agreed by the eHealth Network. The Network is co-chaired by the Commission and Austria, as the Member States' chair, and brings together all 28 EU countries.

The guidelines aim to enhance continuity of care and ensure safe and high quality healthcare as set out in the Cross-border Healthcare Directive. The basic information for a patient, according to these guidelines, includes both administrative data, e.g. personal information, details of healthcare provider in home country and insurance information, and clinical data, e.g. information about allergies, vaccinations and recent surgical procedures.

Speaking at the eHealth Network meeting, Paola Testori Coggi, Director General for DG Health & Consumers, European Commission, said "The adoption of these guidelines is a landmark agreement on EU cooperation on eHealth. This is where we really begin to see a concrete outcome on collaboration in eHealth for the benefit of patients, after years of discussion."

Good for patients: The guidelines make it possible for patients, upon explicit request, to have a summary of their electronic health record available when visiting another Member State. This means that in the event of planned, unplanned or emergency care, the doctor in the country of treatment will have an electronic overview of the patient, and a set of basic administrative and medical information, which will improve patient safety.

Good for national authorities: Currently, many EU countries are in the process of developing their own national electronic health records. As well as providing guidance at EU-level, these recommendations could give national authorities valuable reference both on the procedure and the content of their national patient summary records.

For more information on the eHealth Network:

For more information on Cross-border Healthcare: